Leading up to this week’s Oscars nominations, I have my fingers crossed that Beasts of the Southern Wild will make the Best Picture list. Not only does this independent gem deserve to make the list, as it was my favorite film of the year, of the last 10 years, but the additional exposure of being nominated will spread its message of resilience to an even greater audience. And the more people who see this powerful film and understand the warning it offers, the better off the human race will be.
From Ben Richardson’s handheld cinematography depicting the Louisiana landscape and its people, to Benh Zeitlin & Dan Romer’s score skillfully creating a unique blend of cultures, I was transported to the Bathtub for a short while. During my stay, I was struck several times at how captivated I was, enthralled by each in a sequence of events that unfolded in an astounding roller coaster ride that seemed to be always descending the big hill. The string of drama never paused long enough for me to fully explore the powerful metaphors being played out on screen, but I was perfectly satisfied to let the film wash over me and leave the symbology open-ended, meaning many things at once.
Link to trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wqt5m0OBkjE
Upon reflection afterwards, though, the true resonant nature of the images and ideas presented come to full fruition. The film seamlessly blends fantasy and realism, providing entertainment and insight into the human spirit. Towards the bottom of its many layers, I also see Beasts as a cautionary tale about our planet’s potential future and our lack of readiness to confront it. After the severe droughts, floods, and superstorms that 2012 brought us, climate change is undeniable, as is the dire situation faced by the Bathtub dwellers. We can look at the characters in the movie as examples and discover our choices to deal with our own looming storms. Since we can’t leave our Bathtub as some non-Beast residents do, we will either have to employ the incredible hardiness of the few, or we have to do everything possible to prevent our next storm from coming.
Take from Beasts of the Southern Wild what you will, since there is an incredible amount there to be found. Regardless of whether you find the same mix of foreboding and hope and encouragement that I did, whether your mind and heart are opened in the same ways as mine were, I truly believe every person on this planet would do well to spend a couple hours in this world.