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Out of all the pictures nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild is a magical journey into the unknown world of hope, tragedy, and perseverance.
The movie takes place in The Bathtub, a Louisiana bayou hidden from the urban jungles and rural suburbs of our nation.
Hushpuppy is the story’s narrator. She is a 9-year-old girl who lives with her ailing father Wink, played by Mike Henry, who teaches her about surviving in the rustic jungle-esque world of the Bathtub. He is tough on her but Wink loves her enough to prepare her for life without him.
In this world separated from the high tech metropolises we are accustomed to, the inhabitants of the Bathtub live simple lives with little outside connections.
They live in makeshift shacks supported by tall beams with no electricity or cell phones. In essence the people live with the natural wild of their world.
They are friendly to one another even in the harshest of times. When news of an impending storm comes by them, Wink, Hushpuppy, and their closest friends decide to stay and brave it.
Without giving away all the plot points, Hushpuppy narrates their story by describing the members of the cast as a migrating herd.
She describes the big world as if she is god watching the past, present and the future of all of them.
The small group of misfits resists the aide of government disaster relief in order to protect their way of life and their distinct cultural identity.
Quvenzhané Wallis gives an outstanding performance as Hushpuppy. She delivers each line with a childlike gusto that most child actors cannot pull off.
Originality in film is a hard thing to achieve because the settings and character types have all been seen and portrayed before.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is refreshing in regards to narrative structure, characters, and setting. Zeitlin has made his mark as a young auteur with great promise to becoming an exceptional film maker. This film may not win the Oscar but it is clearly deserving of it.