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Feature film lifted election dejection and stormy blues

Quvenzhané Wallis in a scene from the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Quvenzhané Wallis in a scene from the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild. Jess Pinkham - Contributed by Image.net

OPINION: What a week.

Sodden Australia Day celebrations turned into a damaging thunderstorm, which became a tornado, which turned into a flood disaster, which became an uplifting community clean-up and recovery operation.

Sometime in-between, Julia Gillard announced the date for the Federal Election, kicking off what will likely seem an interminable eight months of campaigning.

Then Australia's Attorney General and enemy of western civilisation, Nicola Roxon, resigned - and there was much rejoicing from those who have watched with dismay her attempts to dismantle concepts of personal freedom, rights and responsibilities in favour of an Orwellian nanny state.

And when the time came to write a column over the weekend for Monday's paper, I was at a loss about where to start.

So I watched a movie instead.

With the Oscars fast approaching, I finally got around to watching Beasts of the Southern Wild, one of the contenders for Best Picture.

Perhaps it was just because of the week from hell suffered on the Fraser Coast, but this movie about a small community struggling to cope in the aftermath of a massive flood that wipes out their town moved me like no other film I have seen in recent memory.

Movies have received a bad wrap in recent years, as an endless succession of remakes, reboots, sequels and spin-offs cluttered cinemas from Hollywood to Hervey Bay, and everywhere in between.

Stunted imaginations, bad scripts, clunky acting and uninspired CGI effects have become the order of the day, and the potential of the medium of film to meaningfully add to the sum of our culture has been sadly diminished.

That is a pity, as there is no other medium that quite offers the combination of sights, sounds, words, music and drama to move people.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a timely reminder of the soaring potential of movies.

Creatively put together, the entire movie is seen through the eyes of a young child - complete with all the joy, sorrow, wonder and that particular type of heart-breaking resilience children possess.

It even has the monsters children create. As a teacher tells her students about melting ice caps, a girl imagines fearsome creatures locked away since the last Ice Age breaking free to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world, and to track down children to eat for breakfast.

The premise is brave and confronting, the characters are multi-faceted, the coming-of-age story is timeless, the acting is faultless, and the music is brilliant.

It is a movie that does not seek to please everyone (a US critic called it one of the worst movies of 2012) - it seeks to challenge people, to make them feel and think and question.

Watching it provided the catharsis that only great works of art can give.

It was a reminder that film actually can be an art form, rather than a business.

It made me feel good after a bad week. You can't ask much more of a film than that.

Topics:  burrum heads, election, federal, flooding, floods, fraser coast, maryborough, mary river, roderick makim, tornado


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