As someone pointed out, the tens of millions of poor people in the U.S. haven’t been mentioned in the presidential debates, where they are invisible. But not in this film. Like richer folks, they work, they party, though in a different world. We catch glimpses of that in this amazing, beautiful film. The only semblances of non-poverty are seen in the evacuation centre and the impersonal refinery. More amazing are the low budget and the non-professional actors. Doesn’t look it.
Most amazing, however, are the child characters, who will one day work and party. Already, they cook, chase chickens, crack crabs, paddle boats. They are learning to survive in a neglectful world. Is this joyful or saddening? Probably both. The film portrays defeat and triumph, tears and determination and laughter. However, the lead character, Hushpuppy, says the number of times she has been held she can count on two fingers. Fingers, not hands. Very sad. Even allowing for imaginative licence, it’s a gritty film. We see polar ice melting into the sea, weather getting freaky, people wearing PFDs, like that’s going to help.
Fear of rising sea levels, fear of being orphaned, fear of not being loved, are ‘personified’ in the giant aurochs. My crack research team tells me that for aurochs they used costumed pot bellied pigs made to look three metres tall in the film, whereas real aurochs (right, now extinct, dehabitated and hunted into oblivion almost four hundred years ago) were the source for Indian and European cattle. Seeing as Hushpuppy is only six or seven, lives on an island, and definitely knew pigs but probably not bulls, this makes sense. I won’t tell you how it ends. Still, who are the beasts? The imaginary aurochs or the real poor people? Or both? Or neither, but us who would rather forget our fears, including fear of strangers, and just go to the movies?Images from the film, except the aurochs from Wikipedia.