Beasts of the Southern Wild is a fantasy drama film written by Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar from Alibar’s one-act play called “Juicy and Delicious.” Faced with her hot-tempered father’s (Dwight Henry) fading health and flooding in her ramshackled bayou community, a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) struggles to be survive.
Hushpuppy is a scrappy six-year-old who lives with her father in a post-Katrina New Orleans community called the Bathtub. With her father’s health failing, Hushpuppy is forced to set out in search of her mother and a mythical creature known as the auroch. The auroch, which looks like a cross between a buffalo and a wildebeest, has magical powers.
A good film is a confluence of many variables. A good director orchestrates these variables into a finished form. Beasts of the Southern Wild is such a film and Behn Zeitlin is such a director. And the brilliance of Zeitlin is that he manages to take all manner of seemingly contradictory elements and make them,as a nameless boat captain says in the film, cohesive.
One such variable is story. Hushpuppy is a six-year-old girl who lives with her father on the wrong side of a levee in a fictitious Southeast Louisiana town called The Bathtub. The film follows her point of view, and the world of her active imagination and the real world around her often intertwine on screen. The film is your standard coming of age story, but it is this unique perspective of Hushpuppy and her understanding of the world around her that is the foundation of the film and its magic.
Another variable is music. The director worked closely with his friend and composer Dan Romer in creating the score for the film. The result is one of the best scores in modern cinema. Just like the film, the music is a beautiful blend of contradictions. It’s uplifting yet tinged with sadness, vast yet intimate, wise and noble yet naive and playful.
Director: Benh Zeitlin
Year of Release: 2012
Character to watch: Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?