Beast of the Southern Wild (Movie Notes)

22 Aug


Sometimes a movie leaves me speechless, with tears streaming down my cheeks.  Walking out of the theater, stunned, I am struck that everything around me looks and sounds different than it did when I entered.

Beast of the Southern Wild (dir. Benh Zeitlin, 2012)  knocked me over tonight. It is achingly haunting, stunning, gorgeous, and uplifting in its sadness.  There is power, poverty, heartbreak, and hope. The acting by non-actors, especially Quvenzhané Wallis who brilliantly portrays six-year old Huspuppy, combined with mobile, handheld cameras, close up framing, and raw story bring to mind the best of the Brazilian Cinema Nôvo of the 1960s.

I’m truly speechless–at a loss to pull all my thoughts together cohesively. I don’t know whether to draw a thread through the Hushpuppy’s conversations with her absent mom and her visions of aurochs or to talk about her strength, innocence, and perserverence. The lessons of childhood–that we are creative and determined until we learn not to be–are all there. And, of course, there is the cinemetography, the first-person narration, and evolution of the film from the stage play.

Right now, though, I’m too busy processing it, letting it roll over me. And feeling, as Hushpuppy so eloquently puts it, that I am a tiny piece in a big, big universe. Swirling all around me, as around her, are the invisible pieces of the things that made me, that made Huspuppy and Wallis, that made this film.

And since this film won major awards at Sundance, Cannes, and the Los Angeles Film Festival, you don’t need me to tell you all about it. Instead, I will share a few reviews that led me to search this film out this summer.

Go see this film. Then go home, embrace the ones you love, and realize how much more community and hope are than the things that fill our shopping bags.



3 Responses to “Beast of the Southern Wild (Movie Notes)”

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster August 25, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    I hadn’t even heard of this movie until I read your review. Now I suspect it’ll be the next movie I watch, if I can make it out the movies before it’s gone. (If not, I’ll definitely be hunting it down in a small screen format.)

    Beautiful review.

    • Culture Bean August 29, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

      Thanks, Deborah. One of these days I’ll write a real essay about the film. I can’t stop thinking about it.


  1. Art & Culture In the Wake of Hurricane Katrina « Culture Bean - August 29, 2012

    […] Beasts of the Southern Wild: I wrote about this film last week. In some respects it underscores the issues of diversity raised by Eggers’s book. In other respects, it shows the staggering free will and independence of the proud people of the “Bathtub.”  I remember seeing the road to the “Bathtub” washed out and hearing news reports of people who had refused to leave, of a peninsula turned island by the storm. This film shows us all that through the eyes and words of a six-year old, in all its exquisite (in both the sense of beauty and of blinding pain) emotions. As the mother of a seven-year old, I can’t fathom how a child can be as strong and self-reliant as HushPuppy or how an eight -ear old can summon the reserves to portray her on film. Read my notes about Beasts of the Southern Wild here. […]

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