I have seen the movie "Beasts of the Southern Wild" now three times. I fully expect to see it at least that many times more. Each viewing I discover something more to love about it, and its heroine Quevenzhane' Wallis. It is a difficult movie to watch:but that is what makes it so very magical and a must see. To an outsider-questionable parenting-in fact from a Clinical Psychologists' vantage point-even abusive. 6 year old "Hush Puppy" really raises herself, her mom leaving her to be parented by her alcoholic father, Wink (Dwight Henry) who is dying from some unknown illness. It doesn't matter what the illness is-the fact is he is dying, and his daughter will have to fin for herself-and have to learn to do so in a hurry. So in his last days he teaches her how to catch and make food, find shelter, attend school, and live among a community of outsiders in "The Bathtub". Add a haunting score, unforgettable images-this is a movie that stays with you for a lifetime. Even more astonishing is that the two main characters are not professional actors.
The Bathtub is also a source of distress for outsiders looking in. It recalls the disasters of Katrina, but this community lives constantly with the challenges of coping with a volatile environment that you are wholly dependent on for food and shelter. The average viewer might initially be horrified at such abject poverty-but these Delta dwellers love their lives and each other. They can think of no better place to call home. In fact, their worst fear is to be cared for by social services.
It is this delicate balance of the environment that "Hush Puppy" has to navigate that is so tear provoking for me. She believes that she has broken all that is near and dear to her-Wink included that is so sad. I love that at such an early age she has realized that she is a little piece of the universe, and she wants to preserve this way of life for those that come after her. It is difficult to bury a parent at any age-but as a child-mind boggling. Even more impressive she understands at this young age there is a circle of life, one she must pass on. We have all become more "green" in our day to day lives, but we would all do well to see the world as diverse and wonderful as she does. In her world, it doesn't take more than caring for her animals, a pile of seafood, a shed for shelter, and those that love her (especially her daddy) nearby to make her happy.
In the end, Hush Puppy ultimately faces her fears which take the form of "aurochs" a pere-historic beast that she envisions as tipping the delicate balance of nature, and contributing to the death of her dad. In fact, it is her that assists with his transition-and as he promised-she becomes the leader of this tight knit community. She knows somehow you always lose the one "that made you". Poetically told and heartfelt-it will leave you glad and sad all at the same time. It has been years since a movie has stirred such emotion in me-and perhaps because it is at a time when so much about my life and business has grown in such unexpected ways. To build a house is one thing, a workspace is another, but combining the two-so that you can create a life for yourself, family and create jobs for your community-is a painstaking labor of love. After seeing this movie-we believe we are on right track. My company TransformationServices, Inc uses a holistic approach to counseling: incorporating a healthier physical, emotional, and spiritual lifestyle.This "green" and growing environment also supports a Social Entrepreneurship Incubator for Professionals and "Professionals to Be" that are, or want to be Substance Abuse or Mental Health Counselors. Like Hush Puppy, "The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right".
I would love to hear from others who have seen it, what the movie meant to them-according to the director and producer-it means something different to everyone. I recently got my DNA tests back (Fula/Mende-Temme, Kru) found from Sierra Leone to Liberia) which may also have contributed to my wonderment and appreciation of "Beasts", where we all question the legacy of where we come from, and what we wish to leave behind. According to the end of the film, "I'm recording my story for the scientists in the future. In a million years when kids go to school they are going to know that once there was a Hush Puppy, and she lived with her daddy in the bathtub".