The Beauty of Beasts

Don’t worry! I won’t spoil anything!!

Last night, my friend and I went to see The Beasts of the Southern Wild at E Street.

It is an incredibly beautiful film about the world and life in The Bathtub as seen from the perspective of a little girl named Hushpuppy.  Through mesmerizing shots and narratives of wisdom beyond her years, she challenges us to think about the ethics of our own society and way of life as well as the role and responsibilities of humans as determined within the order of nature.  Capturing the adherence to the self-sustainable lifestyle of the community, observations of the world from Hushpuppy’s eyes force the audience to develop understanding, admiration, and respect for their world very different from what people living in the modern societies know.  Benh Zeitlin makes his directoral debut in this film shot over 56 days in the bayou of southern Louisiana, starting ironically the day Deepwater Horizon exploded.  In addition to Zeitlin’s status as a newcomer, all of the characters in the film are played by first-time actors, including Quvenzhané Wallis who plays Hushpuppy. You will be blown away by her talent and poise!

Go see this film and all the other amazing ones playing at the Landmark Theater locations!!!

After the film ended, my friend and I discovered that while we watched the film we had both thought of a little boy named Michael.  Michael was a student at McDonough 42 Middle School in the 6th Ward of  New Orleans.  We had spent our spring break at the school to do community service work and help rebuild the community post-Katrina. Michael had wandered away from the kids playing during recess to help us prepare a plot for the school vegetable garden.  In the hour we worked with him, we talked a bit and realized that Michael was not an ordinary child.  He said that he did not care about school because protecting his family was his priority.  With an intermittent adult figure in his life and their small house full of his various family members, he told us of how he sleeps on the floor by the back door with a baseball bat to fight off anyone who tries to break in.  While Hushpuppy was mature, she also lived in her fantastical world of imagination.  In stark contrast, he lived in reality of now.  He had no choice but to act as an adult figure for his siblings and his own security.  At six-years-old, he was well aware of the struggles that would surround his life.  Unfortunately, there are kids like Michael everywhere who are deprived of a childhood and live in an unstable environment.  We just hope that Michael is okay and is still in school to allow him a haven to escape from the responsibilities that burden him in his home life.

My friend and I had visited New Orleans three years after Katrina hit, and the city was then still recovering to restore its original affluence of vitality.  Then, after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the progress the city had made was again challenged.  Through all the hardship, the resilience of the community and their attachment to the place they call home is incredible.  With Michael in mind, we truly hope that New Orleans and the people who comprise the community have received and are receiving support and services to flourish once again and antiquate the nickname “the city that care forgot.”

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