Beasts of the Southern Wild

Composed by: Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin

Distributed by: Cinereach Music

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Based on a one-act play by Lucy Alibar, the fantasy drama Beasts of the Southern Wild stars Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy, a six-year-old girl struggling to survive in the Southern Louisiana bayou community known as the Bathtub.  When a storm and subsequent floods threaten the existence of the town, Hushpuppy must find a way to stay alive despite her only caretaker's (Dwight Henry) failing health and the threat of the arrival of ancient, mythical beasts.

                The musical score of Beasts of the Southern Wild was composed by Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin.  New York music producer, writer, performer, mixer and composer Dan Romer began his foray into film music composition in 2007 with the short Death to the Tinman, since then, he has composed the musical scores of the shorts Glory at Sea and American AutumnBeasts of the Southern Wild would be his first full length feature film.  New York filmmaker, composer and animator Benh Zeitlin is mainly involved in the making of films, but has worked on film composition with Dan Romer since 2007 with Death to the Tinman.  He also worked with Romer on Glory at SeaBeasts of the Southern Wild, a movie directed by Zeitlin, is also his first foray into composing for a full length feature.

                The music of Beasts of the Southern Wild has a youthful resilience to it.  The music is basically centered around the main character, Hushpuppy.  According to Benh Zeitlin, "When we made the score, we just thought, What is Hushpuppy thinking about this situation? Let's make music that would reflect what she thinks about what's happening.  If we tried to score it from anybody else's point of view other than Hushpuppy's, it fell flat."  Thus, the listener can detect a hint of playfulness at times and at others, a splash of fear of the unknown.  Through it all though, there is a sense of determination, which Zeitlin attributes to the resiliency of the people of Bathtub: "The score was built from the idea that the Bathtub had its own ‘Auld Lang Syne’ or ‘America the Beautiful’ or ‘We Are the Champions.'  We needed an anthem to express the ferocious, resilient, triumphant mentality necessary to hold out at the end of the world."

                In addition to original score, the Beasts of the Southern Wild Soundtrack features songs from the Cajun band Lost Bayou Ramblers, Leroy "Happy Fats" LeBlanc and The Balfa Brothers.  The songs performed on this soundtrack offer up the playful sound of Louisiana bayou music and encourage the listener to dance along with the music.

                The Beasts of the Southern Wild Soundtrack is an interesting album with a diversity of music well-worth taking a listen to.  I especially enjoyed the songs of the bayou, but the musical score is just as interesting.  In fact, I enjoyed the soundtrack of the film so much, I can't wait to see the film itself, always a sure sign of a well-composed soundtrack.


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