By: Kendra Thornton
Benh Zeitlin‘s, Beasts of the Southern Wild is uniquely told through the perspective of a child, Hushpuppy, whose voice-over narration reveal’s Hushpuppy’s internal thoughts and allows viewers to enter her world of dreams and fantasy that overlap with reality. On the surface the story of this film can be viewed as a young girl on the brink of losing her father, the only family she has left. Hushpuppy’s perspective makes the story much more intricate as it shifts back and forth between fantasy and reality, while at the same time incorporating issues relevant to modern society.
This film relies heavily on visual style to add to the story line. The shots emphasize the nature of “The Bathtub”, especially its inhabitant’s relationship to sea-life that is their livelihood. Filming hand held brings an intensity and urgency to the film that adds to its aesthetic, and wonderfully captures the world through the eyes of a young girl. There is a natural quality to the scenes, like in the scene where the residents of the “Bathtub” are having a celebration. The scene begins after people have already begun celebrating, which makes the viewer feel almost as if they are walking into the party themselves along with the camera.
Though a fantasy drama, Beasts of the Southern Wild addresses issues in the film that affect the lower class in today’s societies. In the film as well, the inhabitants of “The Bathtub” are deemed to be dependents who are unqualified to decide what is best for themselves. The film presents this issue with the police forcing the residents to evacuate “The Bathtub” against their will. The film shows their choice of lifestyle being stripped away as outsiders come into their home and try to dictate how they should be living. The film attempts to break down classism by portraying people of “The Bathtub” as strong and resilient people who are capable of fighting their own battles.
Also Quvenzhané Wallis, the girl who plays Hushpuppy, is the youngest actress ever to receive a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Now you have to watch it!