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Abstract

On the face of it, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild is an intimately scaled production that aims to tell the story of a young girl’s coming of age. However, despite its tight focus, the film brushes up against many explosively political issues—post-Katrina disaster relief, climate change, and poverty among them. Yet, extrapolating from the theories of writers like Robin Wood, Jean-Louis Comolli, and Jean Narboni reveals that all films are created from some sort of ideological basis, whether that basis is intentional or unintentional, conscious or unconscious. Viewed through a theoretical framework, Beasts of the Southern Wild possesses an ideological undercurrent that has implications in social, political, and economic spheres. Through its eccentric aesthetic and subversive subtext, the film rebukes certain tenets of dominant cultural ideology, presenting a world largely incompatible with the American capitalist ideology, while implicitly supporting gender roles in that same system.

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