so i did promise to stop writing so angrily now and then, or to write about things i love as well as things i hate. i watched beasts of the southern wild last night with my daughter. what a beautiful and moving thing; those performances are unbelievably true: so true, as many have remarked, that they don't seem to be performances. of course, i also admired the ethos: we're trying to preserve our place and our people, fucked up though they are too. it is, for one thing, an enactment of emersonian self-reliance in every dimension, even for people who are 7 years old. (and see, that can be the self-reliance of a real community as well as of individuals; those are not in tension.) jane, i have to say (who was also very moved by the film) did not understand at all why they insisted on staying, why they wanted to escape from the shelter, and so on. and i do think that the idea that people would want to live eccentrically, or in a context not fully institutionalized by bureaucracies, is not something that people who are being processed through an urban public school system are liable to find comprehensible. but i'll also say this: at 12, she's starting to become aware that a lot of what they're telling her is manipulative claptrap; we're going to see a more independent person emerging as time goes on, i believe.
anyway, i don't think that the giant boars added anything to the film's real power; they seemed a very ham-handed, kind of jungian way to drive home points that were already completely developed: you have to face death, you have to face some fundamental dimensions of aloneness, you have to find your own place and your own peace and your own courage. we could say: you have to face the beasts, but then to make that quasi-literal does not make it more profound; all those things are so there and so perfect without that. having giant boars represent the beasts within etc is too easy in a film that everywhere else takes the hard way, as if in a romcom you cut away to a rose during each kiss. (the most egregious example of this technique is tree of life, in which the kiss/rose cut would seem subtle, but way too happy.) now i just feel like a chronic quibbler or something, because that is quite a great work of art. and the beasts were also depicted with great visual power and intimacy. indeed, even as a pure visual experience, the film was varied, beautiful, right.
and, to all my liberal friends and family members who loved that film, i would ask you: is the ethos of beasts of the southern wild compatible with your politics?