Hushpuppy’s father comes down with an unknown illness and Hushpuppy’s universe begins to unravel – literally. Suddenly and without reason, temperatures rise and the planet’s ice caps melt, unleashing a horde of prehistoric beasts known as Aurochs. As the world seemingly comes to an end, Hushpuppy embarks on a dangerous adventure to a land of concrete and steel – a land beyond the levees – to search for answers.
Zeitlin’s film, based on the stage play Juicy and Delicious by Lucy Alibar, captures the fantastical vibe of Spike Jonze’s 2009 adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are and supplants King Max’s make-believe island with post-Katrina New Orleans.
Schoolteacher Miss Bathsheeba (Gina Montana, When the Levees Broke) teaches the children of the wasteland all about the Aurochs – gigantic wild pigs covered in tusks that were frozen during the last glacial age. Her sumptuous thigh serves as a canvas for a cave painting-esque tattoo of the beasts roaming the plains. When the ice caps melt, these ancient beasts will roam the Earth once again – trampling everything in their path.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is an imaginative, emotionally powerful work by Zeitlin, who makes his full-length feature film debut. Vivid imagery accent the authentic performances by Wallis and Henry, providing a heartfelt story of family and man’s relationship to his environment. It’s a simple story done right – an American fairytale born on the bayou, overflowing with crawfish and Creole and plenty of down-south soul.