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Film / Beasts of the Southern Wild

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Once there was a Hushpuppy, and she live with her daddy in the Bathtub.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a 2012 fantasy drama film directed by Benh Zeitlin and adapted from Juicy and Delicious, a one-act play by Lucy Alibar (who co-wrote the film along with Zeitlin).

The film follows the story of six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) who lives with her father in a place called “the Bathtub”, a southern community on the edge of the world, blocked off from civilization by a huge levee. Hushpuppy and her community face destruction from the changing environment, including a mass flood and prehistoric beasts released by the melting ice caps. Meanwhile, Hushpuppy’s father, Wink (Dwight Henry), is suffering from a mysterious illness.

The film was a great success on a relatively minimal $1.2 million budget, and received four Academy Award nominations — Best Picture, Best Director (Zeitlin), Best Adapted Screenplay (Zeitlin & Alibar), and notably Best Actress for Wallis. The nomination made Wallis, 9 years old at the time, the youngest Best Actress nominee in history; she currently still holds the title, as well as those of being the first 21st-century-born Oscar nominee and the second-youngest Oscar nominee in historynote .


  • Abusive Parents: Wink unambiguously loves Hushpuppy, but is verbally and physically abusive towards her, and is neglectful to the point of having her live unsupervised in a separate house. Even after she accidentally burns it down, he only begrudgingly lets her live with him and treats her cruelly. He changes for the better before he dies.
  • Amphibious Automobile: Wink's boat is made of pickup truck parts.
  • Apocalypse How: At the beginning of the film, the Bathtub is cut off from civilization by a huge levee, and people live in a postindustrial level of civilization. When the rain comes, the entire Bathtub area is flooded, animals start to die and some of the people who didn't leave were drowned.
  • Arc Words: "No crying".
  • Bittersweet Ending: Wink dies, but not before seeing proof that his daughter has found her way in the world, while Hushpuppy has grown into her own as the independent and strong child he wanted her to be.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Aurochs were prehistoric cattle, not gigantic pigs. Justified by their being implied to exist only in Hushpuppy's imagination.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: After the flood Hushpuppy and the remaining Bathtubbers enjoy seafood, beer and relax on the water.
  • Crapsack World: The Bathtub, from the perspective of the people who don't live in it. Even if the flood didn't come, it's implied the place was doomed.
  • Disaster Scavengers: The people in the Bathtub live in a world constructed from detritus and waste. The rest of the world isn't like this. Just the Bathtub.
  • Doomed Hometown: The Bathtub
  • Full-Boar Action: The aurochs.
  • Hands-Off Parenting: Hushpuppy lives in her own trailer apart from her dad. She moves in with her dad after she sets her trailer on fire with her gas stove.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: A repeated theme throughout the movie.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Everyone in the Bathtub, for putting their trust in Hushpuppy's father and refusing to trust the people on land (who were only trying to help them and had a good reason to get them out). Obviously, all this gets them absolutely nowhere.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Wink.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Wink has two modes of parenting: shouting and sullen silence. But he clearly loves his daughter and is willing to do anything for her, including brave a hurricane or send her away so she doesn't have to watch him die.
  • Kid Hero: Hushpuppy is a girl about 6 or 7, who manages to lead both adults and children. Wallis's audition (included as an extra on the DVD) took place when she was 5. She was 6 when she appeared in the movie, but 9 by the time she received her Oscar nomination.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Whether Hushpuppy's visions of aurochs are real or fantasy is not discussed. (It's implied, but never confirmed, that Wink can see them in a late scene.)
  • Missing Mom: Hushpuppy's mother is not on the scene. Later in the film, Hushpuppy and the gang end up in what seems like a brothel, and Hushpuppy meets a woman who is implied to be her mother. Hushpuppy takes back the fried gator that the woman cooks for her back to her dad, as her dad has mentioned that her mother killed and cooked a gator for him on the day of her conception.
  • No FEMA Response: Averted. When the big flood comes, the remaining people in the Bathtub are evacuated forcefully to a shelter.
  • No Indoor Voice: Everyone in the Bathtub, but especially Wink. At least until he gets sick.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: Wink becomes furious when the doctor at the shelter won't stop talking about his medical condition in front of Hushpuppy, despite his protests.
  • Only Sane Man: Walrus, who is loyal to the community, but strongly considers evacuating in the face of the storm, and refuses to join in Wink's destruction of the dam.
  • Parental Abandonment: The three girls under Ms. Bathsheba's care; their parents are never seen or mentioned. It's implied that their families evacuated The Bathtub and left them there.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Subverted with Hushpuppy as she looks very uncomfortable when she is forced to wear a frilly blue dress and has her hair plaited at the shelter. Her friends, who also had this happen to them, don't seem to mind though.
  • Slurpasaur: The aurochs were portrayed by pigs wearing fake fur and horns.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Hushpuppy's father Wink has a mysterious illness, complete with the Incurable Cough of Death and Blood from the Mouth. The only explanation he ever gives is that his blood is "eating itself".
  • Solar Punk: Where do we begin? The film starts with a teacher who warns about global warming and the rising sea levels, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. The people in the Bathtub refuse to let a levee ruin their way of life, so they break it down. Then the city government forcibly removes them from the Bathtub, so they rebel even more. The film is steeped in environmentalism and has anti-authoritarian characters, but the Bathtub manages to retain a sense of happiness with their way of life.
  • Viking Funeral: Wink gets one.
  • Wasteland Elder: Wink, the protagonist's father, is the authoritative and determined leader of a shantytown at the edge of a levee. The residents are imperiled by floodwater and live apart from the outside world.