Once There Was a Hushpuppy…

Beasts of the Southern Wild is about as Independent as they come. It debuted at Sundance, was distributed by Fox Searchlight, has a miniscule budget, a very short runtime, a completely unknown cast, and first time writer, director, composer Benh Zeitlin shot the film on 16mm. Beasts of the Southern Wild is the little film that earned major recognition at the Academy Awards. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, but my interest was immediately peaked with Best Actress. At only 9 years old, Quvenzhané Wallis became the youngest Best Actress nominee of all time.

I was rooting for her all throughout the awards season, but it’s hard to argue with Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in The Silver Linings Playbook. Though Wallis delivers a poetic performance that’s wise beyond her years. Although male in the original one-act play Juicy and Delicious, the role of Hushpuppy is more fitting for a young girl. Once there was a Hushpuppy, and she lived with her daddy in the Bathtub. Like The Green Mile, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a great example of magical realism. The movie is a very realistic depiction of a small tight-knit, but impoverished community on the Louisiana bayou that faces a devastating natural disaster.

Real life Hurricane Katrina survivor Dwight Henry is also notable for playing Hushpuppy’s tough father Wink who tries to teach his daughter to fend for herself. The most unusual thing about Beasts of the Southern Wild are the titular prehistoric aurochs that slowly approach Hushpuppy and are somehow tied to her father’s health. Hushpuppy’s missing mother is also a metaphor for something I didn’t fully understand at the time. All I know is that Beasts of the Southern Wild is about being part of something greater than yourself.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Hushpuppy encounters a beast of the Southern wild

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