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on January 14, 2015
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is one of those Oscar-winning movies that I missed out on seeing the first time around, and I really didn't have much of a motivation to actually watch it since the Academy Awards aren't terribly important to me. Still, I am glad that I finally decided to break down and watch it because there were aspects of it that really spoke to me on an emotional level.

It stars Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppy, a young girl who lives with her father in a Louisiana bayou community called the Bathtub. There isn't a concrete story, per se, instead following Hushpuppy around as she learns how the world works and is gradually exposed to what a harsh place it can be. One central theme is the fragility of human communities, and how one thing going wrong can lead to loss of balance and equilibrium. A prime real-world example of this, and one that I think the film took inspiration from, is Hurricane Katrina. This is never addressed in the film, either directly or indirectly, but the specter of that natural disaster hangs over it like a cloud. There is also fragility in the sense that the levee is the only thing that keeps the Bathtub functioning and thriving, and its destruction radically changes life for its residents.

Another theme, which was more applicable to me than the proudly defiant and resilient Bayou community, was that of bravery and courage in the face of death. Having recently (yesterday), just gone through the loss of my grandfather, the way in which Hushpuppy has do deal with the impending loss of her father hit very close to home. And connecting to the previous theme, her father is a vital part of her world and losing him is something she has to come to terms with, even for being so young and impressionable. This brings me to my general impression of the film, and that is a child's view of the world, innocent and optimistic. We often try to shield our young from the trials and travails that life sometimes has in store, but inevitably they will experience these things and we need to prepare them for when that time comes.

As far as quality goes, I could take or leave the handheld shooting style but I will at least admit that it works in a naturalistic sort of way and meshes well with the naturalistic performances given by the cast. The performances themselves were decent, and Quvenzhane Wallis was particularly good, although I would probably chalk this up more to the director than Wallis herself. I also appreciated the on-location shooting which shows off the natural beauty of the Lousiana bayou. What didn't quite work for me, and maybe it's because I didn't quite "get" it, was the aurochs. The metaphorical use of these extinct creatures came off as a little too pretentious for me and the film probably would have been just as effective without them. Perhaps they were supposed to represent the "beasts" in the title but there were already enough real animals in the film to illustrate Hushpuppy's connection with them, and of course the "human animal."

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually enjoyed this film. It started off a little bit on shaky ground, but as the film progressed it grew on me and I was completely on-board with it by the end. It might be too artsy for some due to its meandering story structure and ponderous voiceover, but it does a good job of probing the psyche of a child and examining how we as humans fit into the natural world. If Terrence Malick is too difficult to get into for you but you still like a thought-provoking, imaginative film, then this will probably do just fine.
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on December 5, 2014
When the waters rise, we all need to heed Zeitlin's message - those who value each other over material goods stand a better chance of living and living happily. A little heavy handed at times, but timely and Wallis carries her complex role with strength and grace. She displays the type of leadership we may need: a little masculinity - a little femininity and a whopping mix of bravery and love of community.
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on November 19, 2017
Wonderfully creative, imaginative. Filled with culture and symbolism. I loved it!!!
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on January 17, 2015
I ADORED this movie and wish I had bought it as a "keep" DVD and still might as I could watch it over and over. This young girl lives in a harsh world, has to turn to dreams and an imaginary life to stay alive. Not to give the plot away but it will be like no movie you've ever seen and opens your eyes to so many ugly yet magical things about life.
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on July 27, 2016
My husband and I have watched Beasts of the Southern Wild several times. The first time we both sat on the sofa with our mouths opened almost through the entire film. We were horrified and mesmerized at the same time. It is a fascinating story that is both beautifully tender and jarringly harsh. The father and his daughter are captivating characters. The soundtrack takes the film to another level. It was perfect for movie.
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on February 23, 2014
This is a stunning movie--beautifully filmed. It lifts and sinks your heart. The child actress was the youngest ever to be nominated for a best actress oscar; she had never acted before, nor had the man who played her father and both of them are just amazing both individually and in their unique and moving relationship. This film describes a culture previously unknown to me, in a place on the Bayou called The Bathtub because of its proximity to water and their dependence on it and their vulnerability to it. Part of the children's education is that there are real dangers in life and that they must be strong and learn to face those dangers. The original sound track is gorgeous. The cajun music enhances the study of this fascinating culture.
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on June 8, 2014
This is a very special film, so I purchased it. It'll take more than one viewing to appreciate all that it has to offer.
Here are some of the great features in this cinematic work of art:

--- live action special effects- no cartoons!
--- local, talented and believable actors who bring depth, and authenticity
--- excellent character development
--- real emotions, language, gestures, environment... very raw
--- lack of sentimentality; this film approaches life head-on
--- a beautiful soundtrack

If I had to compare it to a single film, it would be "Daughters of the Dust" which I also highly recommend.
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on January 30, 2016
...need more stars to click. A must watch movie. Days later, I'm still thinking about it. Beautiful movie about survival, love, and conquering fears. I have never before commented on a film I've watched. This film has compelled me to recommend it to the Amazon universe. It can be difficult to watch at times because of the horrific living conditions the people endure. It is a brutal, honest movie. Beautiful ending.
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on September 10, 2017
Good movie. My nieces loved it.
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on August 27, 2013
This film is a must see, I love the child in this film. She brings to the world of film a different sort of convincing. She was born with this ability to act. The relationship she has with her dad is so hilarious. I will keep this in my library for all times. I did rain at some parts of this film, due to the nature of a young girl without a mom, but the dad was such a strong and funny man. He didn't allow her to dwell in sorrow, that she should be tough in all situations. I love this film. You must see this and spread the good news about family togetherness. A must see! Missing only God and prayer. You'll see.
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