Stories of our Lives

Beasts of the Southern Wild

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In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a six-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.

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” a crackpot collaboration between Carl Jung, Terrence Malick, Terry Gilliam and Al Gore...” - Read full review from Salon

“Hushpuppy is a six-year-old mystic when she says: ‘The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right...I see that I'm a little piece of a big universe, and that makes things right.’” - Read full review from Spirituality and Practice

Questions For Discussion

  1. In a way the movie is a creation story told by a youthful and imaginative voice. What storyelements seem ‘new’ because it’s told from the vantage point of a child?

  2. Even though the movie is set in a ‘forgotten’ part of the world, the issues it deals with seem familiar. How do you identify with them?

  3. How is BOTSW different from a fantasy film?

  4. Salon described this movie as magic realist, in which extraordinary elements blend into the ordinary in a way that deepens the meaning. Why do u think writer/director Ben Zeitlin used this style for his film?

  5. Does BOTSW romanticize marginal people?

  6. What does Hushpuppy mean when she says to the immense Auroch: "you're my friend, kinda"?

  7. Ben Zeitlin tried as much to use local people and to build their own sets (they actually built a boat from garbage and sailed it from New Orleans to the gulf). How do you think this affects the meaning(s) of the movie?

  8. What myths or mythical or biblical themes do you recognize?

  9. Why does Hushpuppy want future archeologists to read about her InThe Bathtub? “When I die, the scientists of the future, they’re gonna find it all. They gonna know, once there was a Hushpuppy, and she lived with her daddy in the Bathtub.”

  10. The storytelling is set in the context of impending climate change. Will the big stories we tell ourselves change now that climate change is happening? The psychiatrist Stanislav Grof describes the boundaries of states of consciousness as being similar to the beach. On the shore, everything is stable, and beyond, out in the gentle rise and fall of the ocean, everything is stable in another way, but the real action is in the surf zone, where the two worlds intersect. That uncertain, unpredictable, unmappable zone is where Magical Realism reigns. Discuss!
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