Monkey Reviews

Through the Eyes of A Chimp

Monkey Reviews
Friday, February 24, 2012

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Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Last movie of the year. Best movie of the year. Well, at least in the top ten best movies of 2012.

When I saw the trailer for this movie months ago, I thought it was a movie about Katrina told through the eyes of a child, pure and simple. I knew I wanted to see it, it looked interesting, creative and unique but it’s much more than just about Katrina. It could be Katrina but that’s just the backdrop, it could be any disaster, any devastation, any natural un-doing. It is about Katrina but that’s only the beginning.

If I were to “tag” this movie I wouldn’t know where to start and at the risk of sounding reductionist here is a list that came to mind. Beasts of the Southern Wild is about: addiction, dysfunction, chaos, survival, suffering, abuse, sadness, violence, Americana, the down-trodden, family, friends, love, capacity and incapacity, imagination, instincts, power of nature, listening, loyalty, knowing, spiritual knowing, innocence and wisdom, community, death, drowning, life, murky unconscious, unified consciousness, wonder, fear and the gift to rise above, to not get swallowed up despite pain and sorrow raining down.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is mythical, it is purple meme, it is magical, it is other-worldly, it is redemption.

Both visually and musically it’s amazing. Somehow this movie manages to feel gritty and real, yet at the same time, I was transported to a world of magic and myth-making that can only emerge when chaos threatens to sweep meaning away, drowning any sense of nobility with the waters of mud, grime and instinct. And all the while, I couldn’t help think that what I saw on screen was probably a true picture of some place some where, in some small corner of the world.

The narrator is the voice of 6 year old Hushpuppy, main character, daughter of Wink, addicted and absent, both in presence and in spirit. When he is there, his absence comes through harsh and loud. He is negligent in all ways imaginable and if there ever was a beast, he would best the best of them. Beasts, as the title indicates play a formidable role in this movie and they threaten at every corner. Whether it’s the beast brewing in the storm clouds or the beast that hovers on the inside, both in the soul of a child without a mother or a father who has lost everything (maybe even his soul), the voice of the child is a listening voice who guides us through the mess of floodwaters. Hushpuppy is our story-teller.

She’s listening all the time, putting her ear to the ground, so to speak, or in her case her ear is nestled tightly against the fur and feather of creation, knowing that what she hears in the creature is what is buried within her. She is fully aware that she and what surrounds her is One. This is her saving grace, this wise way of hers, and she needs much grace to not only escape her world of upheaval but also to be able to come back, despite the beasts and take care of what and who she loves.

Movies appeal to me for a variety of reasons. Some movies are intriguing and there is a mystery to be solved, other movies make you think and discuss. Some movies are interesting, informative, educational and you leave knowing something new. Some movies are visually appealing and emotionally satisfying. But how would I describe this one? When I asked myself that question the answer was a simple one. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” – I love that movie, I love the characters, I love the meaning. My mind was engaged for sure, but what it really comes down to is - the deep sense of affection I have when I think of this movie and it’s spiritual impact. I’m glad to have spent the last night of 2012 with this movie.