‘Beasts’ reminds of unsettling reality, uncovers hardships

Less than 10 minutes into the movie, I cursed under my breath and thought, “I hope this movie isn’t a sad one.”

All I wanted to do was to sit down and watch a “silly” movie that wouldn’t require much thought on my part. I didn’t want to burden myself with anything too serious; I wasn’t in the mood for a documentary-type movie, or one with any resemblance to real-life people or events in any way.

I wasn’t completely surprised with the tone of the movie I chose – after all, the title was “Beasts of the Southern Wild” – but I didn’t look at the plotline beforehand and wasn’t too prepared for what it presented.

I wanted to watch it because the lead actress of the movie, 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, was the youngest actor ever to receive a Best Actress nomination for her role as unflinching Hushpuppy, and because my sister had recommended it to me various times.

The movie was sad; heartbreakingly so. It contained all the traditional sad themes: poverty, domestic instability, dangerous environments – you name it. But what set it apart from all the other movies was that it made me think, not only during the time I spent watching it, but every day since as well.

By the end of the movie, a flood of emotions hit me. I was upset and sad with the content of the plot. But I was also in love with “Hushpuppy,” who after all is a fictional character, but one you can’t not love nonetheless.

Hushpuppy

But the most overwhelming emotion of them all was anger.

I was angry at the world the movie portrayed, but angry with myself, too, for almost wanting to stop watching it because it wasn’t “light” enough.

I understand that my wanting to shield myself from “harsh” movies was a natural inclination every person experiences.

We want to hide from what we don’t know about the world, and we want to continue to be self-indulging beings who believe in the saying, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you.”

What if not knowing hurts more?

We are always occupied in our lives; never short of things to think and worry about in this world. If worrying about politics, countries, religion, safety, health and family wassn’t enough, our daily activities and actions give us enough short-term concerns to occupy our minds with, too.

To make ourselves feel better, we turn to mind-numbing activities, like watching TV, which would – even for a couple of hours – bury our concerns and take us into an alternate world.

We are – or at least I was – then disappointed to find out that what we had just seen wasn’t comforting, but rather troubling.

We have a natural tendency to worry only about ourselves and immediate surroundings, sheltering ourselves from the troubles beyond them.

But sometimes, protecting ourselves from such knowledge does us more harm than good. Exposing ourselves to the troubles of others – even in fictional movies – makes us more human, and maybe even more humane.

All in all, I’m glad I watched the movie – after all, it introduced me to Hushpuppy.

 

HIBA ALMASRI

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