Having garnered the top Grand Jury prize at Sundance last January, the mythical fantasy Beasts of the Southern Wild additionally gobbled up the 2012 Cannes’ Caméra d’Or (defined as “the Best Feature Film encompassing all official and parallel selections”).
Not that there’s anything run-of-the-mill about mythical fantasies, but here it’s as if the spirit of Maurice Sendak got loopy on a little too much rum while hanging around the bayous and barges of Cajun country. (Instead of a hero named Max, we get the heroine Hushpuppy.) Throw in a couple of natural catastrophes, bundles of fireworks and voila! filmmaker Benh Zeitlin has created one hell of a wild and wooly beast.
Zeitlin has examined the world of Southern Louisiana previously. His 2008 short, Glory at Sea, recounts the story of a man who builds a boat out of New Orleans debris in order to rescue family members trapped beneath the sea. Now, with his first feature of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Zeitlin continues his theme of survival in a post-Katrina world. Here, a man acutely aware of his own impending end-of-days, has to shake his 6-year-old daughter into extreme survival mode, making her scream out her power at the top of her lungs. Consider this tale a “coming of rage.”
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