Beasts of the Southern Wild directed by Benh Zeitlin2012 (Oscar-nominated for best picture)Faced with both her hot-temperedfathers fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayoucommunity and unleash ancientaurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy mustlearn the ways of courage and love.
Beasts of the Southern Wildnominated for four Academy Awards at the85th Academy Awards, in the categories Best Picture, Best Director (Benh Zeitlin), Best Adapted Screenplay (Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin) Best Actress (Quvenzhané Wallis)Original Music by Dan Romer and Benh ZeitlinCinematography by Ben RichardsonFilm Editing by Crockett Doob and Affonso Gonçalves Production Design by Alex DiGerlandoBased on one act play, Juicy and Delicious by Lucy Alibar (and adapted by her and the director for film)
Beasts of the Southern WildShot on super 16mm film1.85:1 aspect ratio93 minutesEstimated budget: $1.8 millionPremiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it won theGrand Jury award for Dramatic Feature. Then played at Cannes,Los Angeles Film Festival, and Seattle Int.’l Film FestivalOpened in 4 theatres, July 1, 2012 (opening weekend $170,000)Rated PG-13 for thematic material including child imperilment,some disturbing images, language and brief sensuality.
Beasts of the Southern WildCritical response to the film . . .The film has received largely positive critical reviews. . . .Rotten Tomatoesreports that the film has received a "Fresh" rating of 86% from 141reviews (122 positive, 19 negative), with the consensus: Beasts of theSouthern Wild is a fantastical, emotionally powerful journey and a strongcase of filmmaking that values imagination over money.” . . . Roger Ebertcalled the film a "remarkable creation... Sometimes miraculous films comeinto being, made by people youve never heard of, starring unknown faces,blindsiding you with creative genius. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one ofthe years best films.". . . . however . . .
Beasts of the Southern WildConversely, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune said that Beasts was"the most divisive film of 2012", opining that "The filmmaker comes froma perspective of great empathy and considerable skill. But hes a piledriver as a dramatist. The films screw-tightening methods are sooverbearing, the story, the characters, the little girls plight have tostruggle to breathe or develop anything like an inner life." Author andactivist [and Professor at BereaCollege] bell hooks wrote a negativereview of the film, saying "the vibrancy in this film is generated by a crudepornography of violence" and calling Hushpuppy "a miniature version ofthe ‘strong black female matriarch,’ racist and sexist representations havedepicted from slavery on into the present day."
Beasts of the Southern WildAuthor, professor, and activist bell hooks goes on to say:Hushpuppy’s father is the most vocal advocate of a lawless recklessindependence. Wink is the representative hard badass black man. Hischaracter is a composite of all the racist/sexist hateful stereotypes thatmass media projects about black masculinity. In his study of blackmasculinity From Jim Crow to Jay Z, Miles White . . . explains that blackmale bodies are consistently used in cinema to represent the “brute whois immune to physical and emotional pain.” Even though he is sick anddying from an unnamed disease that causes him to cough and spit bloodhe remains the ruthless leader of the pack; his hard badness madeevident in matter large and small (whether orchestrating the bombing ofthe levy or in violent attacks on his little daughter).
Beasts of the Southern Wild. . . Discussion QTo be completed in class after the small group discussion. Worth 5 points for signing andturning in and up to another 5 points for quality of answer for each group member.Write a paragraph response for the following questions. Length of answer is not as importantas the thoroughness, quality, and insightfulness of what is written.1) Looking at the subtext – implicit meanings in the film (which may beideological or symptomatic, or they may be universal) – what do youthink the aurochs were symbolic of? Explain why in one or twosentences. (the aurochs were the large pre-historic creatures breaking out of the iceand heading toward Hushpuppy)2) We talked about what makes a film fit into the model of ClassicHollywood Cinema. This film does not fit this model. In what ways does itchallenge this model the most, in your groups opinion? Explain in two orthree sentences.
Classic Hollywood CinemaDefined by many, but the scholars Bordwell, Staiger & Thompson give the following: Set in the present, external world (not this era, necessarily) and seen from outside the action Film focuses on one or a few distinct individuals Main characters have a goal or a few goals Main characters confront antagonists or series of problems• Emphasis on clear cause & effects of actions – clear and unambiguous The film has closure – often characters reach their goals (happy ending) Film uses unobtrusive filmmaking techniques