A community of resilience in chaotic times

Submitted by Rachel Elizabeth on October 29, 2012 - 11:37am
Film: Beasts of the Southern Wild



The Uptown West Neighborhood Association in Waterloo seek to have fun together, take care of one another and to make the world a better place, as neighbors. Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of joining a dozen or so neighbors at the Princess to view an independent film; completing the "having fun together" part of their mission.

The film we watched, Beasts of the Southern Wild, included motifs of community. However, these were certainly not warm and fuzzy motifs. The protagonist, a little girl named Hushpuppy, takes care of herself from a young age. Though her father lives close-by, he is an abusive alcoholic that only cooks for her periodically. Otherwise, she lives in a run-down trailor by herself. She never knew her mother, who is never never seen, nor her absence explained at any point during the film. Despite such adversity, Hushpuppy, who could not be any older than seven years old, develops a deep resilience and sense of collective identity from a such a young age. She lives in the Southern United States, close the the levvy. She lives by the water, amongst a community of people who are minimally educated, consume great amounts of alcohol... generally a "rough" people. But, they have so much spirit! When they experience enormous flooding, which they attribute to the ice caps melting and leading the beginning of the "end times," this tragedy binds them. The group works together to build a sense of home with what is left of what they know.

This story is deeply complex and enchanted. It leaves the viewer with much to ponder- though it raises controversial and seemingly negative issues, like Hushpuppy's abusive father, these issues are complex... there is no easy solution and no person is just one thing (her father shows great compassion in other moments and experiences such hardship, himself). In community, especially those who experience much hardship and adversity, there is deep complexity.

This film is beautifully-done. The music and cinematography is phenomenal.

For more information, watch the trailor- or go see the film!