The little girl and the Beasts of the Southern Wild

Without doubt the movie this year that most effectively dramatized the precariousness of life on the environmental edge in these United States, including sea level rise, was Beasts of the Southern Wild

Below is a central image from that powerful film, and an explanation of a story told in glimpses. You can't take your eyes of this little girl with the complicated name, Quvenzhane Wallis, said to be a lock for an Oscar nomination (who brings an impossible lightness to this blurrily real film).

Set in a near future, both dystopian and intensely real. the central idea of the future in "Beasts…" emerges unpredictably but mesmerizingly.Writer/director/composer Benh Zeitlin (BZ), and producer Michael Gottwald (MG) explain why to Pop Omnivore/National Geographic

"BZ: The way we developed that stuff [with the enormous Ice Age boars, the aurochs] was very unscientific, very literalist—in the ways you understand how matter works when you’re a young kid. Lucy, my co-writer, is the first to admit she’s really bad at science. So I would explain something about, say, particle physics to her, and she would explain it back to me as well as she understood it. And then I would explain that back to her. So we sort of played this game of telephone until the science got really surreal and basic—the way a kid might understand it.

Louisiana is in the most precarious place in terms of sea-level rise. I thought the way Hushpuppy would understand the sea rising is if an ice cube melts, the water will rise. And one way she would understand death is if something freezes, it becomes still; when it thaws, it goes back to the way it was. So she might understand that the Ice Age froze all these creatures and they “died.” But if that gets reversed, then the Ice Age unhappens—death unhappens—and these creatures come back to life. We extrapolated the mythology through her logic.

MG: Where we shot the film in southern Louisiana, the environment is changing in a way that’s extremely visible and more aggressive than it is in a lot of other places. People say, “Twenty years ago, that was a field. Now it’s not. Now I have to take a bridge to get there.” What the film does—and what the aurochs do in their transition out of the ice—is take that already accelerated process and accelerate it even more."


Meet the future, litle girl. 

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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