Beasts of the Southern Wild is a rich journey of the heart into the dark, damp world of the Southern bayou. It views this world entirely from the viewpoint of its six-year-old antagonist, Hushpuppy. Through her eyes, we celebrate the real meaning of home and the connectedness of all life.
Just as the bayou offers a mosaic of life and death, this film offers many contrasts for the spiritually inclined to ponder. This is not a film that offers specific moral lessons to understand, but rather it is an experience to be absorbed. Viewed through our head, Hushpuppy’s world is one of horrible, unacceptable squalor. Felt through the heart, her world is brimming with the bliss and agony of life. Our moralistic view of poverty is challenged as we observe this child’s uncanny wisdom about the nature of life and the interconnectedness of all.
This film also inspires as a vehicle through which new talent shines. It is the first feature film from 30-year-old Behn Zeitlin, and this freshman effort is already being hailed as a masterpiece and has won prestigious awards at Cannes and Sundance film festivals. Furthermore, the film is cast entirely by unknown actors, all of whom deliver believable, emotion-filled performances. Especially amazing is the flawless performance by Quvenzhane Wallis, only six years old at the time of production. It is a huge risk for any director to take on a film that relies so heavily on the performance of a child, especially one so young, but this young girl carries the entire film from beginning to end with her natural charisma and talent.
Spiritual Bottom Line: This film offers much for spiritual practitioners, both inspiring and challenging the viewer.
Quality Grade: A+