Beasts of the Southern Wild (dir. Benh Zeitlin)

Director: Benh Zeitlin

Staring: Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry

Synopsis: Hushpuppy is  six year old  girl whos father is unable to proect her due to a mytserious illness that he contracts. Soon after, temperatures rise and the polar ice caps melt, releasing an army or prehistoric creatures known as the aurochs. With the rising water and invasion of the aurochs,  Hushpuppy goes on a journey to find her long lost mother.

Coming right from Sundance, Beasts of the Southern Wild has been an out-of-leftfield hit that critics have been very receptive about due to its visually stunning cinematography, bizarre folk-like story, musical score, set designs and acclaimed performance by non-actor Quvenzhane Wallis.

The film starts off within a small bayou community called “The Bathtub”, an area which has been cut off from the rest of society and has resulted in a high level of poverty and neglect.  What is interesting about this setting is the inspiration behind it. Benh Zeitlin (..the director) was strongly influenced by Louisiana, which in some parts has become flooded and ravished.  In recent years, communities within Louisana who reside close to the marshland have become stubborn and unwilling to go inland and this was something that intrigued Zeitlin.

Okay, cool…but why go see it?

I think this will be an interesting watch due to the film’s unique atomosphere and environment. Personally, I’m a fan of films that expose urban decay. I think it’s gritty and shows a side of realism which exposes the truth of modern society (I.e, people living within the margins of society). This film won’t exactly be defined by a sense of realism, but will be unique nonetheless. The swamp-like environment, junkyard inspired locations and lack of technological advancements will help bring a fresh perspective to my idea of what urban decay is.  All of which is beautifully defined through the attention-to-detail cinematography provided throughout the film.

Here’s some photos to help visualize my description.

In terms of the storyline,  the director claims he wanted to make a populist film that would be relative and transferable to all types of audiences. It is intended to be a film which answers the question: “What is at the end of the road?”. On that note, the film has been described as being a combination of apocalyptic and folk-like. After numerous pre-screenings, critics have commented by saying that the film doesn’t fall short of being unique and inspirational.

After learning about the main character, Hushpuppy, it seems like there will be a unique character study being provided here. We’re seeing a young girl who’s been described as the last of her kind. She’s young and therefore, unknowledgable about the plagued world around her. After being thrown into a civilization which is at the end of its existence, she is naive- believing that the very nature around her will end up consuming her. However as the film progresses, she explores nature and eventually comes to terms with everything. To top it off, apparently Quvenzhane Wallis’ performance is nothing short of spectactular and has been gaining recognition by numerous critics..

So if your looking to see a film which is out of the ordinary and will enlighten you, this may be the pick for you.  I know I’m a little late with his up-coming film as it appears it is already being screened through some public theatres. If your in Toronto and your interested in seeing this film, it’s being screened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. I’ll probably be checking it out sometime this week.

On a sidenote..

  It comes to no surpise that this film has been described as having folk-like elements. The director’s parents were folklorists and his last two short films were also inspired by folk-like tales. On a sidenote, His 2005 short film titled Egg is an odd and disturbing retelling of Moby Dick. Here’s the link to it if your interested http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/1309703760.


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