There was a Hushpuppy and she lived with her daddy in the Bathtub…It begins almost like a “Once upon a time” fairytale. But children have a way of making the most complex stories sound so simple and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is much more than a simple tale of a girl living with her dad.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is the tale of Hushpuppy, a poor 6-year-old girl facing orphanhood. Economic struggles and the loss of loved ones can be difficult concepts for anyone to grasp and deal with, but for a small child, it’s even harder. Despite the harshness of her reality, Hushpuppy’s story is a magical one filled with imagination, bravery and hope. It’s the type of heroic story that only a child could tell.
At the start of the film, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) introduces us to her isolated community, Bayou community known as The Bathtub. From her eyes, everything seems truly spectacular: you feel her sense of love for her father, delight in her pretend dinner parties and gasp with glee at her wonderful descriptions of the town’s frequent holiday celebrations. For having no money and no mother, Hushpuppy makes it seem like she has a lot. But despite her optimistic narrative, it’s impossible to ignore the tides of sadness ebbing in at the sides of her world. The reality is that Hushpuppy is malnourished, abandoned by her mother, and her beloved father (Dwight Henry) is an abusive, often absent drunk that’s slowly dying. She’s on the brink of orphanhood and the reality of her world is downright awful.
Running through Hushpuppy’s narrative is the story of these mythical boar-like beasts, trampling straight for her and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. These made up creatures are very real to Hushpuppy and are the embodiment of her fear. Their presentation is a lot like the beasts in “Where the Wild Things Are.” They’re illogical and imaginary, but very matter of fact and tangible to the child, which makes them the realest thing in the world. Can Hushpuppy face the threat they pose to her carefully crafted world?
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is not an easy film to sum up in a few sentences, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a magical story with some very big and real issues that are presented spectacularly. It’s not like poverty and death haven’t been shown in film before, but Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is a unique, fantastic story with a perspective that’s often overlooked in films. The young, new actors such as star Wallis are wonderful casting finds. Wallis brings a special authenticity to the story and has a bright future ahead.
Yes, there was a girl named Hushpuppy and she lived in The Bathtub with her father, but there was also so much more and it is worth going to theaters to see her story.