I heard about Beasts of the Southern Wild prior to all of the Oscar buzz and I’ve since watched it 3 times. The first time I had a range of emotions and was not quite sure what to think or what I was supposed to take from the movie.
I watched it a second time because I felt like I was supposed to get more from this movie. I’d also read a LOT about it after the first time I saw it because I really wanted to understand all the buzz that surrounded the movie. It’s generally a good indication when I do extensive research after watching any movie that it’s going to end up being one of my favorites. And I found out Miss Bathsheeba was one of the New Orleans residents featured in When the Levees Broke back in 2006 and I wanted to revisit her character as well.
Finally, I watched Beasts of the Southern Wild again because I ABSOLUTELY love Quvenzhané Wallis and after watching multiple interviews and the behind the scenes production of the movie I am even more impressed with her as a young actress. Despite all this sudden fame, in all her interviews she is simply a little girl that “likes to pick flowers” and carry animal purses to awards shows.
There is one particular scene that will forever have me baffled as to where a 5 year old girl reaches within herself to draw up enough emotion to produce such an emotional on screen moment.
It’s the same emotion Denzel Washington created in “Glory” scene when he gets whipped. But he was a grown man with life experiences….Quvenzhané was 5 years old expressing a similar emotion.
Anyway, the second time I watched it I was not preoccupied with anything else and realized I’d missed so much the first time I watched Beasts of the Southern Wild. There were moments in the beginning that connected to the end and I better understood why they were necessary for the movie. Beasts of the Southern Wild is definitely one of those movies you watch more than once and each time you see something new. I’ll certainly say the first time it was processing and attempting to see beyond all the despair to realize, in my opinion, that at the core this was a movie about love and community. So the second time I was somewhat oblivious (there are parts that I can’t watch simply because it pains me to see a child go without basic needs) to the way the residents of the Bathtub lived, but focused more on the dialogue and all of the metaphors of life displayed in this film.
Many of the metaphors were a bit abstract and compared to most, the way Wink and Hushpuppy displayed love was a bit untraditional, but it was their way of experiencing and showing love. I’d read where some people were disturbed by the relationship between Wink and Hushpuppy, initially I had the same feeling. However, after watching a 3rd time, I realized that parts of my past allowed me to relate to the type of love Wink and Hushpuppy shared. As a young girl I probably spent as much time practicing my piano and playing with Barbie dolls as I did sitting in my Daddy or granddaddy’s old Chevy trucks for hours at a time at a stinking hog lot. Not the place for a little girl but I loved being there just like Hushpuppy loved being anywhere her father was, so I can relate to Hushpuppy in being a little girl in untraditional surroundings. Underneath it all, that was their way of showing love.
The third time I was simply amazed by Quvenzhané as a young actress. I mean really who can resist this cute face?
I had no idea this movie would effect me the way it did, I ended up experiencing this movie as a child that lost a parent and in those final moments and throughout this “life after” regularly sees everything my mother prepared me for in her absence. Granted it wasn’t presented to me the way it was to Hushpuppy, but the lesson was the same none the less. I won’t be here forever, so here are the tools you might need for survival.
A pivotal line in this movie and perhaps what made me realize I needed to watch this film again to understand it fully was,
I don’t typically cry at movies, but when Hushpuppy spoke these words….. Christie wept. Not because it was a sad scene but because I could relate and God spoke something similar to me shortly after my mama died and it’s helped me understand why so many around me had died unexpectedly over the last several years. I won’t say it’s a motivational quote, but it certainly reminds me that in a time where people are quickly leaving this earth that; we won’t be here forever, make the most of your time with each person, live intentionally and don’t run from difficult times. It happens to everyone, but the strong survive.
So of course I bought the DVD and it is filed next to another movie with a young heroine/character I identify with, Troy Carmichael.
I think everyone should see this movie, however, there is no in between; either you’ll love it or hate it wholeheartedly. If it helps, Beasts of the Southern Wild reminds me of any great Toni Morrison novel. And if nothing else It’s a great discussion movie to see how others think and are effected by this thing called life.