Friday, August 31, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild


I don't have time to write a full review, but I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't commend Beasts of the Southern Wild to your attention. 

Despite some very tasty images, such as the above, this is not really a fantasy -- or if it is, it's only a fantasy in the sense that any movie in which life proves to be impossibly hospitable is a fantasy.  And there's no getting around the fact that the plot is almost as shambolic as the charmingly hammered together sets.  But it has a stunning performance by then-six-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis and tons and tons of heart.

So what happens?  The marsh Eden called Bathtub is a refuge for what Rebecca Ore calls "wild humans" -- people who live in extreme poverty but in recompense get to live exactly as and how they wish, with not a second thought for authority of any kind.  But a hurricane, an ill-advised attempt to save their community by blowing up a levee, and meddling government do-gooders threaten to to separate young Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane) and several other girls from their homes and families.  Bad things happen.  Good things happen.  There's a happy ending. 

The ending is kind of beside the point, though.  The charm of this movie is in its moment-by-moment depiction of lives spent in the kind of freedom that most of us can only fantasize about.  Also in its visual beauty.  Squalor has never looked more attractive than this.

I have to wonder, though.  According the credits, the movie was based (surely loosely) on the play Juicy and Delicious Lucy Alibar.  What on earth can that play be like?



Anonymous said...

It's not in any way based on the work of Doris Betts by the same title?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Okay. I've researched this now, and it is not based on Doris Betts' work, but how in the world can a title like that be completely lifted and used by someone else? It's either very bad form or theft. I'm not sure which. Unless we're going to call it a left-handed acknowledgment of Doris Betts after the fact and after someone recognized the illegitimate lifting of someone else's brilliance. I'm perplexed, but I'd like more information from Lucy Alibar on this one. Was Betts' work out of copyright? Does anyone else have a problem with Betts' title being seemingly stolen?

Kevin Tamm said...

And, sir, did your research show that Doris Betts formed her title from lines from William Blake's poem "The Little Black Boy"?
Having just finished the incredible, 1973 collection of short stories by Betts, she makes no nod to Blake, because none is necessary. We are all on somebody's shoulders.
The form is not bad, there is no theft nor any left-handedness.
I do agree with you, though, sir, that you are indeed, perplexed. The information you're seeking is in the bread crumbs marking the path for you. See the movie, read the book, recite the poem. Then write back with how they moved you.

Anonymous said...

Malarky, Kevin. If it happened to a current work, people would be up in arms.