With thunderstorms rolling through the city, you might be wondering how to plan your weekend. Settling into a big-screen movie remains a classic option for a summer day, whether you are trying to beat the heat or stay out of the rain. Along with the usual mainstream action and comedy fare, this season brings us “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a fantasy drama centered around a six year-old girl named Hushpuppy, played by Quvenzhané Wallis (pictured, right).
The film follows Hushpuppy and her community who intentionally live isolated from the rest of society in The Bathtub, a half-submerged coastal community on the Missisippi river delta. Hushpuppy’s community is organized around living autonomously off of the land and she embodies an intimate connection to the natural world. At the beginning of the film, Hushpuppy puts her ear up to animals’ chests in order to hear their heartbeats; she informs us that all living things have a heart beat and they all speak in a language, even if we don’t understand. Her sage narration throughout the film is punctuated with intense clips of polar ice caps melting and wild beasts charging, reminding us that the actions of human societies dramatically impact the harmony of the natural world. Through its use of magical realism, the film presents interpersonal and social conflicts as allegories for global warming and Hurricane Katrina in a manner that is both deft and visually striking.
Currently playing at several locations throughout the city, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” challenges our expectations of narrative film while also presenting the issue of climate change in an intriguing and artistic way.