‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ doesn’t disappoint
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 01:10
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” made its debut as a winner of the Sundance Film Festival in 2012.
As I scrolled through the various tweets on my phone, I noticed Oprah Winfrey’s tweet that said, “Saw BEASTS of the SOUTHERN WILD last nite. Speechless! Woke up this morning thinking about it. Still no words. #BeastsoftheSouthernWild.” Later, I discovered President Obama recommended the movie to her.
To six-year-old Hushpuppy, freedom resides in the defiant, quirky community in the backwaters of South Louisiana, affectionately called the Bathtub. Residents of the Bathtub never forget to support each other in times of need and always know how to have a good time.
“The Bathtub has more holidays than the whole rest of the world,” Hushpuppy says. This fictitious community lies in an area unprotected by the New Orleans levee system. A hurricane threatens the region, forcing Hushpuppy to face her fears and learn to endure the life’s challenges.
When I watched “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” I was instantly intrigued at the endless creativity and fearlessness shown in Hushpuppy, who is played by Quvenzhane Wallis. Although she was chosen over thousands of young actors for the part, she had never acted before. Her character contains wisdom beyond her years and is portrayed in a magical way. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Hushpuppy and her explanations of the world around her.
“The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right,” she says. “If one piece busts, even the smallest piece...the whole universe will get busted.”
Hushpuppy overcomes the struggles faced from living off the map in a desolate land called the Bathtub and decides that she is “a little piece of a big, big universe.”
Dwight Henry plays Hushpuppy’s father, Wink, and is determined to teach her how to survive on her own in the world. Astonishingly enough, he is also a non-actor. Producer Benh Zeitlin regularly visited a bakery in New Orleans as he casted for “Beasts.’ Zeitlin saw potential in the bakery owner and recruited him to play the role. In my opinion, his performance in the film trumped those of other famous actors who would have played the role. Henry experienced Hurricane Katrina firsthand and had a connection with the setting and background of the film.