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August 25, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CST
Beasts of the Southern Wild depicts a side of the Bayou life that goes mostly unseen. For residents of The Bathtub, a makeshift neighborhood far from the New Orleans levee that you can reach only by boat, hunting their own food and scavenging for bits of shelter are keys to survival. The true test: battling the threatening the rising flood water post-storm. They battle against the wild every minute of every day — not because they have to, but because they want to.
Hushpuppy, the protagonist played by Quvenzhané Wallis, might be the boldest, most vivacious elementary school-aged girl in modern film. She has an almost-magical connection to nature that nobody else quite understands; she grabs birds and leaves and pulls them close to her ear to hear what they're saying. Even when she shows her fearful side, she still stands tall with her chest out and stone-cold game face on high.
Through her connection to and understanding of nature, it's almost seems as though she's a fortune teller; she knows what's to come when the waters rise up from the storm, and how to survive them. She bounces her strength off her father, Wink, and he pushes her to be able to survive completely on her own.
The most compelling aspect to take away from this film is pride in Bayou living. From the start of the film, the people who live in The Bathtub don't care about living in luxury or with modern amenities: they're completely happy. And if they're discovered by anyone from the outside community, as the film later shows, that happiness
is taken away. They've established a kinship that parallels any other tight-knit group, but their courage is what shines.
To sum it up, Miss Bathsheba, Hushpuppy's school teacher, puts it like this: "Learn to take care of those littler than yourself.
No negatives about this film. The documentary style was the best type of presentation for this epic, and the sights in it will bring tears to your eyes–in the best way possible. It's an absolutely must-see.