Every night, little children are tucked into bed with fairy tales. Every night, another generation is introduced to the rank and file of morality, the archetypes of good and evil that trundle through enchanted forests and teach us the value of the human spirit. These characters may often seem strange, even backward at times, but they manage to find happiness in their own ways and in their own worlds.
Beasts of the Southern wild is at once a jarring tale of poverty in a forgotten corner of the world and an inspiring glimpse of human defiance in the face of life’s insurmountable onslaught. Never saccharin or false for the sake of story, the characters are beautifully flawed and love each other in very real and family way. The settings are simultaneously desolate and lush; familiar yet alien. The “real world” is viewed as just over the horizon, beyond the levee that holds back a flood of modern problems from their enchanted realm.
Hushpuppy, a little girl with a smile that could warm a room and a scowl that could burn it down, lives in The Bathtub, a self-contained ecosystem of loving neighbors off the coast of New Orleans. Her world is demarcated by manmade walls and constantly threatened by the rising waterline, but her imagination, determination and childish buoyancy allow her tiny community to feel like an unbridled kingdom. Although she and her father have nothing, her internal resources are boundless.
She believes that the entire universe is connected, and that one thing out of place can cause everything to come crashing down. After a fight with her father, she tells him with adolescent ferocity that she hates him and wants him to die. When he actually becomes sick and unable to care for her, she suspects that she has forever lost her place in the universe and set in motion a calamitous chain of events. It becomes her quest to claim a new place in life’s mysterious order, and reestablish the balance she has seemingly set asunder.
Ultimately, Beasts of the Southern Wild is about a little girl who is forced to grow up too quickly. The story is unflinching and beautiful, gruesome and inspiring; a modern day fairy tale.
The Blu-ray extras are pretty great for such a low-budget movie, including a look behind the scenes, directory commentary for deleted scenes and a short documentary about the creation of the mysterious and monstrous Aurochs.