MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Fox Searchlight
Directed by Benh Zeitline. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry.
Every so often a small film comes along that is totally enjoyable and yet hard to explain. Such is the case with Beasts of the Southern Wild, a movie that is at once dreamlike and believable, fantastic and yet down-to-earth. Most reviews of this film praise the wonderful performance of Quvenzhané Wallis, the six-year-old girl who plays Hushpuppy, the pint-sized hero of the story (and she is the youngest actor ever to be nominated for the Best Female Actor Academy Award). Her acting is so natural and captivating you just can’t take your eyes off of her.
And yet, when you try to put into words what this film is actually about, Beasts of the Southern Wild isn’t going to tell you directly. The story takes place in a backwater part of Louisiana bayou (close to New Orleans) known as The Bathtub. The area is recovering from the aftermath of a great storm, and Hushpuppy is trying to find help for her father, Wink (Henry), who is struggling with failing health. There is much travel through flooded areas, but Hushpuppy is never alone. She has learned about some of the stories of the area from a gifted schoolteacher and finds support in times of need from a group of locals who hang out at a local seafood bar.
The change in the weather may be from a simple hurricane or from flooding caused by major climate change. There are stories of giant aurochs that roam the countryside; this could be a popular myth or actual reality. This movie may be the sunniest post-apocalyptic film you will ever see. Nothing is to be taken absolutely literally in the world of this film.
The community that is shared in the simple act of breaking bread (and breaking crabs) reminded me of Holy Communion, and Hushpuppy’s faith and celebration of life chooses hope over despair.
Although this film was made on a shoestring budget and shot on 16mm film, it is filled with scenes of beauty, accompanied by a lovely Cajun-flavored original music score.Rather than try to make absolute sense of such wonder, I would invite you to approach Beasts of the Southern Wild as a work of art and let it captivate you. The awe and wonder of God is here, the Kingdom as seen through the eyes of a child
Four halos: A beautiful story of community in the midst of adversity, told from the eyes of a hopeful little girl.
Two pitchforks: Much drinking of alcohol and the mild and somewhat innocent appearance of prostitutes. .
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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