Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Reid
Dir. Behn Zeitlin
68/100

I would say Penny, Chris and Kevin have the best chance of liking this. Based on the little I know of Arlyn, this would be something that might interest her, too. There are elements that Don might like, but I think some of the other qualities will prevent him from liking this. No, to Joel and Larri. I would say no to Marc as well. There’s an outside chance that Jill might find this interesting, but I’d guess not.

**
Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) and her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), live in squalid conditions on a the swampy island, along with other people. (The setting seems to be close to New Orleans.) A storm is coming and except for a few people–including Hushpuppy and Wink–many leave the island.

Based on some comments I heard before seeing the film, I expected magical realism in the film–and the film does have these moments, but I was largely disappointed by them, mainly because of the filmmaking and even creativity.

The narrative is bare-bones and pretty sluggish–I don’t viewers (especially mainstream viewers) will find a really engaging story here. But Wallis and Henry have their moments–and I imagine Wallis will win over viewers–and Wink’s intentions and parenting of Wallis, as they become clear, will also appeal to many viewers. But the pacing, story and formal qualities of the film aren’t strong enough, imo. (I could see Arlyn disagreeing with me on this.)

The film also strikes me as something tapping into the Zeitgeist, which I’ll go into in the next section.

***
Close to the heart of the film (if not at its center) is the theme of independence, self-reliance, resilience and liberty–particularly in relationship to the government. We see this both in the community as well as the story of Wink and Hushpuppy. We may initially see Wink as an irresponsible and neglectful parent, but by the end, the film wants us to believe otherwise. He’s raising her to become this fiercely independent, self-reliant person—and the film portrays this in a heroic way—culminating in Hushpuppy taming the wild boar-like creatures. The value of independence and liberty trump almost every other value–it certainly trumps material prosperity and comforts.

Now, in discussing this film with other people, I mentioned that these themes resonates with the times we live in, pointing out that Americans seem to have lost a lot of faith in their institutions. Who can we really depend on, but ourselves? The film seems to tap into that and exalts the notion of self-reliance.

But I never really thought of this as a socio-politico screed against Big Government, but that does seem like a fairly compelling argument. This reading seems more compelling to me after having heard an interview about Paul Ryan–his belief that freedom depends on personal responsibility; that Ayn Rand was a big influence early in his life. One could easily see these ideas mesh nicely with the film. I’m not entirely convinced of this reading, but I think the chances are good that the inpretation will fit fairly well.

Arlyn
Beasts of the Southern Wild (also known as My Neighbors the Totoros Who Live in the Bayou)

Dir. by Benh Zeitlin
Co-written by Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a movie that takes place through the eyes of a fearless 6-year-old girl named Hushpuppy, vividly played by Quvenzhane Wallis. She’s our narrator and our hero as the filmmakers take us on a wild ride to a place in the South, like New Orleans, with a storm on the way, similar to Katrina.

Hushpuppy lives in a community, burdened with poverty. Close to nature, she takes care of the animals that live around her. Living in her own makeshift trailer next door to her father, she cooks her own dinner, wearing protective goggles. Her mother’s absent and her father, Wink, drinks a lot. Their relationship is turbulent at times but underneath that there’s still love and humor.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is about a tale of survival. We witness how the community comes together during a storm, and most especially, we see how Hushpuppy copes with what’s going on around her. There is magical realism when she escapes to her dream world. In the occasional moments that we meet these giant boar-like beasts, I was reminded of the furry spirit creatures in My Neighbor Totoro.

There’s a view that the film is offensive because the filmmakers portray squalid living conditions they couldn’t be familiar with. How could they possibly know what would go on in our narrator’s mind and home? But I felt their compassion for these characters and the environment they lived in.

After I saw the film, I tried locating the script online because I wanted to quote so many of the beautifully written lines spoken so naturally by young Hushpuppy, “I see that I’m a little piece of a big big universe and that makes things right.” “The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts—even the smallest piece—the entire universe will get busted.” “The bathtub has more holidays than the whole rest of the world.” “When you’re small, you gotta fix what you can.”

Reid, I agree with you on what you wrote about the heart of the film and the “notion of self-reliance.” And you’re right. This is my kind of film and I’m disagreeing with you on its pacing, story and formal qualities. The direction, cinematography, performances and music all came together brilliantly. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the most imaginative and genuine movies I’ve seen in a while.

90/100

27 Responses to “Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)”


  1. Reid

    Arlyn,

    This is my kind of film and I’m disagreeing with you on its pacing, story and formal qualities. The direction, cinematography, performances and music all came together brilliantly.

    Well, I wouldn’t mind hearing you discuss some specifics. I understand this film won the Camera d’or award at the Canne festival, but, honestly, the cinematography didn’t bowl me over. One reason for this could have been my imposing my own thoughts about the way the film should have looked. The film seemed to want a raw look and feel and that made me think of something primitive in feel. I’m thinking of something like Melvin Van Peebles’ early films. There are “errors” that a filmmaker with formal training would probably avoid, but those “errors” make the film interesting. The film looked grungy, but it didn’t have the editing and feel of Van Peebles’ films.

    I also thought of filmmakers like Terry Gilliam, Jean-Pierre Jeneut, or even Danny Boyle (Millions)–but these filmmakers may be too slick and polished for the film (but it might have looked cooler–especially the magical realism parts).

    But again, maybe this wasn’t fair on my part.

    The other potential obstacle for me was some level of familarity with the type of people and the community. A few months ago, once a week for a month, I interacted with people in what I would call a “shanty town.” The place and the people weren’t very different from the Bathtub and its residents. So I don’t know if this made my reaction more tepid, especially the first third of the film.

    What do you make of the political overtones of the film, if you see any? (Here’s an LA Review of Books review of the film. I do NOT agree with the political reading of the author, but I thought it might be of interest.)

  2. Arlyn

    The other potential obstacle for me was some level of familarity with the type of people and the community. A few months ago, once a week for a month, I interacted with people in what I would call a “shanty town.” The place and the people weren’t very different from the Bathtub and its residents. So I don’t know if this made my reaction more tepid, especially the first third of the film.

    I’ll get back to you on your questions in a bit.

    I didn’t quite understand your comment here. Why would your recent interaction with a similar community be an obstacle ?

  3. Reid

    I guess because I’m already familiar with the community, and the film didn’t really add insights, surprises or anything else that might make the film interesting (especially the first half of the film). Additionally, perhaps a part of me is worn out and jaded because I frequently see and deal with similar people. It’s not something I want to be reminded of. Does that make sense?

    The first third or half of the film basically seems to establish the community and the people–but there isn’t too much character development, imo. Actually, I don’t think Wink and Hushpuppy are very well-developed, multi-layered characters. For me, gradually realizing that Wink operated from a different set of values–values that have some validity–rather than being simply irresponsible or abusive was the part I liked the characters. They both have some moving moments towards the end that was gratifying to see (although the film lays this on a bit thick, imo).

  4. Arlyn

    Hmm. For me, the movie had to a lot with the character of Hushpuppy who I’d never seen before and could never have dreamed of.

    I’m in love with the way she thinks, “In a million years when kids go to school they’re going to know once there was a Hushpuppy and she lived with her daddy in the Bathtub.”

    But what you said makes sense now.

  5. Arlyn

    I noticed your political comment initially and have heard a lot about it. I didn’t get a feel for the political part while watching it and I still don’t.

    Specifics?

    Musically, the director is also the co-composer of the film’s score. It’s has sounds that sound local to that part of the country, mixed in with other melodies. And the music he chose for the bar scene is memorable. Soundtrack link on the film’s site http://www.beastsofthesouthernwild.com/news/hear-the-music/

    Performances: The two main characters, Hushpuppy and her father, are non-actors and they were amazing.

    Cinematography: I’m not technical but you just feel the rush when she’s running through her little town during the fireworks scene. I loved the way this was captured via a hand held camera. I think it’s the movie poster where she holds the sparklers. The clouds are always amazing in any scene and especially in the Southern Wild. And of course the close-ups of my hero, Hushpuppy!

    The director had already made a similar short (about 30 min) based on the same material so perhaps he may have learned from his “errors” there. I sort of know where you’re coming from though. It didn’t feel raw BUT I felt the grunge of the place where they ate, fished, lived. Only this director could have made such a film.

  6. Reid

    I don’t have time to comment on everything, but I’ll comment on this:

    I noticed your political comment initially and have heard a lot about it. I didn’t get a feel for the political part while watching it and I still don’t.

    Specifics?

    Off the top of my head:

    1. Wink raises Hushpuppy to be fiercely independent and self-sufficient. This is very much in line with conservative ideas. I just heard an interview about Rep. Paul Ryan–about how he believed that freedom could only happen if people took responsibility for their lives. Individuals, by their own efforts, can and should be allowed to take care of themselves–and liberals, through their government programs, undermine the individual’s capacity to do this.
    2. Self-suffiency and independence, alone, aren’t necessarily political ideas, but consider that Wink is adamant about staying in the Bathtub, despite the danger. It is his fervent choice, and what happens? The government comes in, well-intentioned (i.e., do-gooder liberals), perhaps, and takes the people away–against their will. It seems to me the film is championing personal liberty and freedom–the ability to live the way you want to live, even if it is unseemly and unsafe.

    Are these strictly political ideas? No, but there are strong overtones, especially when you consider the way some of the negative attitudes towards the federal government. I also mentioned the growing mistrust for public institutions–not just Congress, but other important public institutions (e.g., schools, the courts, etc.). The film could be read as saying that you can’t rely on anyone but yourself. I think these ideas would strongly resonate with conservatives/libertarians.

  7. Arlyn

    I got the too that they chose to stay there in the Bathtub. Their choice. Nothing wrong with self-reliance. Also, I didn’t find anything wrong with the film even if it’s “championing personal liberty and freedom–the ability to live the way you want to live, even if it is unseemly and unsafe.” It’s part of the story. I didn’t read into the politics like others have.

  8. Reid

    Arlyn,

    OK, I went to the link you posted to listen to the music, but I couldn’t play the music for some reason. (Maybe something’s wrong with my computer.)

    Performances: The two main characters, Hushpuppy and her father, are non-actors and they were amazing.

    They did a fine job, especially for non-professionals–Hushpuppy breaking down at the end was especially impressive.

    It didn’t feel raw BUT I felt the grunge of the place where they ate, fished, lived.

    Yeah, I agree. I’m not sure about the director’s credentials, but if he’s basically a novice and this was a DIY project, i think the film is pretty inspiring. It reminds me of some other films like Blast of Silence, Carnival of Souls or, better yet, Killer of Sheep. (Have you seen that last film? It’s really impressed, fwiw.)

    I got the too that they chose to stay there in the Bathtub. Their choice. Nothing wrong with self-reliance. Also, I didn’t find anything wrong with the film even if it’s “championing personal liberty and freedom–the ability to live the way you want to live, even if it is unseemly and unsafe.” It’s part of the story. I didn’t read into the politics like others have.

    Oh, these values are admirable, but when put in the context of the government being cast as the villain, I’m a little less comfortable with that reading–based on my politics.

    The other thing is that the expression of these values were a bit over-romanticized (almost Hollywood in feel)–at least they were for me.

  9. Arlyn

    I haven’t heard of those films but I’m putting Killer of Sheep on my list. Looks good.

    Yes, this was Zeitlin’s first feature. I didn’t look at the movie as casting the government as the villain.

  10. Reid

    Blast of Silence and Carnival of Souls may not be great films, but they’re good, imo and impressive for reasons I mentioned. Killer of Sheep is definitely worth watching and given the little I know of your tastes, I suspect you’ll like it. (Btw, would you be interested in having a thread about Movie Recommendations for you? You could write about your tastes and we could recommend films for you–if that’s something you would be interested in.)

    I didn’t look at the movie as casting the government as the villain.

    How do you view the actions of the government? And to ask another, more general question: should the government have forcibly removed the people from the island? (That’s a tricky question for me, but I lean towards no.)

  11. Arlyn

    Movie recommendations for me? That would be great! Thank you.

    Good question about the government. Let me think about that and get back to you. 🙂

  12. Arlyn

    Totally spoiling the film for people who haven’t seen it but I’d say yes, that the goverment should have forcibly removed them to save their lives.

  13. Reid

    Good question about the government. Let me think about that and get back to you.

    (I think we can assume that there will be spoilers in the thread–and that others will know this–at least that’s what I’m assuming!)

    Well, that was fast. 🙂 I guess you’re not as ambivalent as I am. Why do you think the government should have forcibly removed them?

    Off the top of my head, I feel like the government should not have because these people have consciously chosen to live this way–and they’re refusing the help. This makes me think of some Native Hawaiians who choose to live off the land, closer to the way ancient Hawaiians lived. There are risks and harships with this approach, but they choose to live this way–I suspect out of their values, which ties into the culture of ancient Hawaiians. (Should the government remove the children from this situation?) Now, if a natural disaster occurs, and the Native Hawaiians in this community welcome assistance, by all means, the government should help. But if they refuse and insist in staying on their land–even if they are in harm’s way–I think they should be given that choice.

    I have a few reservations. One involves liability. Will the government be held liable in a court of law if they don’t act? If so, then forcibly removing the people might be justified. Two, would the government be compelled to save the people if they were severely hurt–and would this assistance severely endanger their personnel? (Then again, if the government could forgo a rescue effort if it was too dangerous–and I don’t see why this wouldn’t be the case, then this might not be a big issue.)

  14. Arlyn

    Especially because of Katrina in Lousiana and because of the hurricanes (Iniki and Iwa) and tsunamis in Hawaii, I would ask that the government take these children at the very least out of harm’s way. If their parents don’t want to go, then too bad. We’re taking them out too against their will. We’ll bring you all back when the storm’s subsided.

  15. Arlyn

    And it’s not for liability’s sake. It’s for their lives.

  16. Arlyn

    And you’re in government for a reason. It’s your civic duty to save these people even putting your life in danger. imo.

  17. Reid

    If their parents don’t want to go, then too bad. We’re taking them out too against their will. We’ll bring you all back when the storm’s subsided.

    I think you have to factor in the reasons the people are staying in this position of danger. If we’re talking about people who have consciously chosen to live a certain way, out of deeply held values, then even if they’re in danger, removing them would come clost to taking away their personal liberty and imposing your own values upon them. That’s what it feels like to me, anyway.

    Consider certain people who refuse medical care because of their religious beliefs? Should we force medical care upon them? What if their child was sick? I can understand reasons for forcing care in both situations, but doing so would basically infringe on their personal freedom, while imposing your own values upon them. One could make a case for such a move, but it’s not so clear cut to me; and personally, I side with protecting their liberty.

    And you’re in government for a reason. It’s your civic duty to save these people even putting your life in danger. imo.

    Within reason, though. There gets a point where a rescue mission becomes too dangerous and they’ll stop the mission. You don’t think this is reasonable?

  18. Arlyn

    Within reason, though. There gets a point where a rescue mission becomes too dangerous and they’ll stop the mission. You don’t think this is reasonable?

    Are we talking about the storm in the movie? If so, I’m siding with rescuing them over their liberty. Not going in, even in danger, is unreasonable to me.

    Medical care would be a different issue entirely.

  19. Reid

    I was actually thinking more broadly in terms of calling off a rescue mission, but I think this would apply to the rescuing the Bathtub residents as well. Here, I’m not talking about rescuing them versus respecting their liberty; instead, I’m responding to your remark–“And you’re in government for a reason. It’s your civic duty to save these people even putting your life in danger.” Yes, but there is a point where the risk is so great that the rescue should be called off. I’m not sure if that point was reached or not in the film, but I was specifically responding to your comment.

    In the film, the government workers come in to take the people out, and forcibly to do so. At that point, I’m not sure if they needed rescuing or not–but it’s clear they didn’t want the help. I could see go against their wishes if they were not of sound mind, but if you knew that’s what they preferred, I’m not sure the government is right in forcibly removing them. But one can make a legitimate argument for removing them.

  20. Mitchell

    I finally saw this and will review it soon. But it was cool to finally get to read this conversation.

    Reid, some of your views here surprise me; they are much more conservative than most of your other political leanings. How do you feel about the government going into a religious compound and rescuing children in polygamous relationships? I’m talking about the ones where teenaged girls are made to marry older men in the church?

    In general, I’m a lot closer to Reid’s position than Arlyn’s. But where the safety of the children comes in, the government has to decide what its standards are in that realm, and to act forcibly if necessary. It may seem arbitrary or inconsistent, but the state has to act on a child’s behalf when it thinks that, according to its standards, the child’s family is interfering with that child’s right to life, liberty, etc. It’s extremely unfair, but I can’t think of a just way around it.

    By the way, I did like the film. More later.

  21. Reid

    Reid, some of your views here surprise me; they are much more conservative than most of your other political leanings.

    I have two broad positions when it comes to issues like this:

    1. There is a tension between the rights of the indivdiual and the rights of society; these is a tension between freedom of the individual and government control (in the name of creating a good society–e.g., healthy, safe, stable, etc.). There isn’t an either/or position one can take; the key is finding the right balance;

    2. We can’t make blanket statements or identify a formula for finding this balance. These are often complicated issues, and we can only find the “right balance” on a case-by-case basis.

    These two points shouldn’t surprise you, as I’ve expressed both points many times during similar discussions. Right? Also, to be clear, I’m not taking a definitive stand on this issue. I lean towards non-intervention by the government–if the adults have made clear choice, based on their values, and there isn’t a reason to believe they’re incapble of making such a choice. They’re taking a risk–and putting their children at risk as well–but parents have to make simliar decisions for their children. Given what we know about football, should we prevent parents from allowing their children to play football? My knee-jerk response is to say no.

    How do you feel about the government going into a religious compound and rescuing children in polygamous relationships? I’m talking about the ones where teenaged girls are made to marry older men in the church?

    Well the key word is “made” to be married. The fact that they don’t have a choice and they’re underaged are two huge red flags that would warrant government intervention.

    Some thoughts:

    >Aren’t there laws against polygamy? So, on those grounds, the govenrment might be justified in coming in;
    >Supposing polygamy isn’t illegal, I can’t see a reason that would justify the government taking the children away;
    >You’re example suggest that something else is going on as it sounds like the group belongs to a cult–that the cult leader and his/her followers may not be of a right mind. If that’s the case–if there’s good reason to believe that the adults are not of a right mind–then the government might be justified in taking away the children.

    I say “might” because one could argue that all devoutly religious people are not of a right mind. So, in my example of some religious people refusing medical care on religious grounds, are they of a right mind? Answering that can be tricky and unclear.

    But where the safety of the children comes in, the government has to decide what its standards are in that realm, and to act forcibly if necessary.

    What do you mean by “standards?” Do you mean principles or criteria the government would use to determine when the risk is to high and when the government can intervene?

    In my view, you have to look at the specific situations. Here’s what I gather:

    1. The residents of the bathtub are fully aware of the risks that they’re taking–for themselves and their family–that is, the risk isn’t being taken out of igornance;

    2. The residents seem to be taking the risk out of strongly held beliefs and values–values and beliefs that approach religious ones. Wink’s neglect as a parent turns out to be a conscientious decision on his part–based on his values and beliefs. It’s not unlike a Native American parents sending their child on a rite of passage that may be dangerous. (I’m not sure if Native American parents do this now, but…) Society may view this as irresponsible, but if it’s part of a legitimate beliefs and cultural system, I think intervening would be wrong.

    Now, if the residents ever ask for assistance, then, of course, the government should assist. Here’s a trickier situation for me: what if the children asked to be saved. (I’m not sure how they would communicate this, but suppose it happens.) That would change things, and I see more justification for government intervention at that point. Still, I don’t think there are clear-cut, simple answers.

    3. The residents seem to be rational and sane indivdiuals, capable of making decisions for themselves.

    By the way, I did like the film. More later.

    The biggest problem I thought you’d have was the pacing.

  22. m

    I thought the pacing was excellent. Every scene seemed to lead to another scene that was interesting in a different way. Of course, I didn’t watch it all in one sitting, so maybe I’d have noticed pacing issues if I had. I took a two-hour nap about midway through. You weekend your way; I’ll weekend my way.

  23. Reid

    Of course, I didn’t watch it all in one sitting, so maybe I’d have noticed pacing issues if I had.

    Ah. If you saw this in a theater (like I did)–knowing you–I wouldn’t be surprised if you fell asleep.

  24. Mitchell

    Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
    Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry. Directed by Benh Zeitlin.

    beastsIn Beasts of the Southern Wild, Hushpuppy and her father Wink live on an island on the other side of those New Orleans levees, a region they call The Bathtub. She’s five and in many ways independent, living in her own trailer about fifty yards away from Wink’s trailer. They catch and raise their own food, Wink ostensibly making his own whiskey, which he consumes in large quantities. Hushpuppy goes to school in a one-room shack on a pier, her teacher also a Bathtub resident, teaching the children about survival in the bayou.

    Wink is not healthy, and Hushpuppy is worried. And there is a storm coming, and helicopters flying overhead proclaim that there is a mandatory evacuation in progress. Wink and his friends ignore the notice, riding out the storm that floods their land for days.

    of theThe people and culture of the Bathtub are fascinating. While there is a pervasive, extreme poverty one simply cannot ignore, the citizens seem to have what they need and want, gathering for crab feasts, celebrating more holidays than the rest of the state, and refusing always to cry when someone dies. In one scene, an elderly man tries to teach Hushpuppy to open gently the body of a crab, but Wink will have none of it, demanding that the little girl “beast it,” breaking the crab’s body open with her bare hands and sucking the meat right from the shell. It’s toughness this lifestyle demands, and there are no age restrictions on toughness.

    There is a lot of yelling in Hushpuppy’s and Wink’s communication, another facet of this life they share. Joy, anger, sorrow, instruction, and love are verbally shouted, often accompanied by the throwing of some trailer decoration or the smashing of furniture, with a kind of emphatic desperation that is strangely touching.

    And the language! It’s some of the most poetic dialectic English I’ve ever heard. I was captivated by the beauty of these characters’ sentences and phrasing. The movie is fiction, and I don’t know how much real-life there is in its characters and setting, but I pray the language is not just something someone made up, because it’s so beautiful I long for it to be alive.

    southern wildThere are some plot things potential viewers might care to know, but see it anyway without my sharing them. The plot is an excuse for us to get to know these people. See it just for that.

    The film is often categorized as a fantasy, and there are some elements of fantasy, some of them obvious and some of them vague. There is a sequence where three of Hushpuppy’s young friends accompany her on a very long trek off their home island in search of Hushpuppy’s mom. Is it possible that this is part of the real-world story, or is this part of the same realm in which the prehistoric aurochs find their way from the Arctic circle to the Bathtub? That mystery adds to the beautiful magic of this movie.

    It is not a movie that needs figuring out. It is a movie that only requires us to get to know its characters, as Hushpuppy wishes: “In a million years, when kids go to school, they gonna know: Once there was a Hushpuppy, and she lived with her daddy in The Bathtub.”

    8/10
    89/100

  25. Mitchell

    I gave this film an 89, which means it would have been number four on my best/favorite films list for 2012, one ratings point (and one spot) ahead of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. That sounds about right, but Salmon Fishing is one of those films that’s going to creep slowly up my list as time goes by, something this film is unlikely to do.

    I agree more with Arlyn’s assessment than with Reid’s. While the plot might be unremarkable (I felt, in fact, that the parts of the movie that were the most plot-like were the weaker parts of the film, as when Wink and Hushpuppy are taken to a shelter), that’s not a weakness but a strength. And the music (which I chose not to comment on in my review) is really good. I didn’t think one way or the other about the cinematography, but that final scene with the aurochs was very nicely shot.

    Since so much of the film is about character, I wish there had been another scene or two where we get to see how well Wink is regarded by the other residents of the Bathtub. While he’s clearly a valued member of the community, I’d like for there to have been more interaction between him and the others. This would have strengthened the main characters’ place in this foreign setting and given the whole thing a little more heft.

    I don’t love the Big Government take on this film, although I agree that theme would resonate with people who already feel a certain way about it. If I had to go a socio-political route with this, I feel a stronger pull toward some kind of statement about native peoples, about their relationship to the land and the rest of the country. When Wink and his friends blow up the levee, I didn’t see it as a strike against government so much as a strike against messing with the natural order. But maybe that’s all part of the same issue.

  26. Reid

    Since so much of the film is about character,…

    Hmm, is the film about character? Some thoughts about that:

    >I think the relationship between Huspuppy and Wink are central, but I’m not sure if the film really does a good a job of fleshing the characters out. In a way, they seem more like vehicles to expressing the themes in the film.

    >At the same time, I could see people liking the characters–and in that way we could say the film is about the characters. Also, we could say that the film is about people and milieu of the “bathtub”–and in that way, we could say the film is about character.

    I feel a stronger pull toward some kind of statement about native peoples, about their relationship to the land and the rest of the country.

    That’s interesting, but I don’t find this reading so compelling. I can’t remember the details of blowing up the levee, but wasn’t it done so that they could continue to live they way they chose–versus a belief that the levees damaged the natural order?

  27. Mitchell

    You could see it that way, if living on their own land where they’ve always lived counts as continuing to live the way they chose. Some people don’t see it that way, don’t see leaving their land as a workable choice. On the other hand, the levees most certainly did damage the natural order: that’s why the water wasn’t receding after the rain. Those levees basically protect one area of Louisiana while screwing other areas, areas where perhaps people have lived for as many generations as the people in New Orleans. I’m speculating, of course, because I don’t even know if those people are real or if anyone does live outside the levees like that.

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.