Beasts of the Southern Wild is a big budget Indy film about anthropogenic ecological collapse as experienced by a poor and backwoods bayou island community called the Bathtub, situated just off the coast of New Orleans. More specifically, it’s about the experience of a 7 year old bad ass named Hushpuppy who has a keen and deep ecological understanding that “the whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the tiniest piece, the entire universe will get busted.”
And she is caught up in the bust for sure. Climate disruption has pushed the glaciers into the ocean and the Bathtub is submerged. From the frozen millennia a pack of long extinct aurochs is unleashed and they are seeking Hushpuppy.
As the tides rise, hers is a village cut off as a sacrifice zone for the sake of the city. Folks are left flooded, their marshlands and forests salinated, their livestock drowned and their supplies of fish and crayfish poisoned. Technocrats and politicians have walled in the all-important commercial zones of the city, leaving the outskirts to tread water on the wrong side of the levy. The worst effects of melting polar ice and rising temperatures are mitigated by marvelous engineering designs in place for the protection of the very systems and communities that spurred the crisis on in the first place. Hushpuppy and her daddy take care of that the only way they know how–a dead gator stuffed from teeth to ass with dynamite.
This movie ain’t no small potatoes nor some obscure deep ecologist’s film school submission. Its already won awards at Cannes and Sundance, with murmurs of an Oscar nod. Many of the actors were farmed right from the region, from the Katrina ravaged coast, and its therefore a blessing to these communities to have their story told and their people paid. And don’t worry if you don’t have an art house theater in town. This one is playing at the big box offices. Take your kid friends. It’s PG-13 and real and harsh but not inappropriate. I took my 8 year old daughter. This might be the most profound feature length non-documentary representation of the way climate change will affect the lives of poor children.