Beasts of the Southern Wild

Rating: 12a
1 h 33m
Showing: March 19, 12:30

Showing: March 19, 2017 12:30
Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle

Film festival

Beasts of the Southern Wild is show is part of the world’s first film festival dedicated to climate linked migration

It would be too simple to say the Beasts of the Southern Wild is a film about a child displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The film is a view into fantasy world the lead character Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) creates to protect herself from the trauma of displacement and her father’s violence and health problems.

Beasts of the Southern Wild makes the link between climate change, hurricanes, flooding and displacement quite explicitly. This is examined through Hushpuppy’s theory of the connectedness of the universe. Footage of the collapsing arctic ice sheets provides the backdrop while Hushpuppy explains “The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece bust, even the smallest piece, then the entire universe will get bust”. As Hushpuppy’s explanation ends the first signs of the storm appear. 

7 year old Hushpuppy’s take on the climate-hurricane connection is actually very accurate. The connections between a warming planet and altered patterns of Atlantic hurricanes are complex. Hushpuppy’s intuitive take on this basically the same. That everything in the world is connected, and that if we alter one thing, there will be unknown consequences.

The warming of the planet and melting ice also becomes a key plot device. Hushpuppy and her friends are told the story of the mysterious Aurochs – a giant prehistoric animal long since extinct. These creatures – the story says – have been frozen into the ice in the north pole. In Hushpuppy’s fantasy the melting icecaps release these frozen animals after thousands of years and they come to her rescue during the hurricane. As the ice melts, and the hurricane begins to make landfall a group of recently defrosted Aurochs’ emerge from sea.

The film is jarring at points. The fantasy world Hushpuppy creates to protect herself is both beautiful and joyful. Watching the film is is easy to be drawn into this fantasy world and forget that this is actually a film about an unaccompanied, displaced 7 year old.

Images: Fox Searchlight

Share This

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get our weekly briefing. All the latest news, events and research. In your inbox, every week. 

You have successfully signed up