Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013 OSCARS: Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) - Good/Bad Voice Over

[Quick Summary: In the Cajun shanty district, six year old Hushpuppy and her father Wink face floods after a hurricane.]

Voice over (V.O.) is a cheat.

Rule #1: Don't use it.
Rule #2: If you have to use it, hide it.
Rule #3: If you can't hide it, see Rule #1.

In Beasts of the Southern Wild, the writers use V.O. often for Hushpuppy.

(Perhaps it was the only way to explain how this six year old thinks?)

I thought the V.O. was effective when it was hid exposition (rule #2):

ex. "If Daddy don't get home soon, it's gonna be time for me to start eating my pets."   
- The V.O. focuses us on Hushpuppy's hunger.  It sinks in later that Wink is not home yet. 

I did not like it as much when V.O. was used as commentary.  

ex.  "It [refugee camp] didn't look like a prison, it looked like a fish tank with no water.
This V.O. explains Hushpuppy's first impressions of a building. 
-  I like this, but feel like it's "telling, not showing" me.

ex. Post-flood, Hushpuppy watches a weak Wink hammer nails.
 "It didn't matter that the water was gone. Sometimes, you can break something so bad, that it can't get put back together."
- This V.O. tells us that she is aware of pain, i.e., she is maturing. 
-  Again, it's telling me she's becoming wiser.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  Less voice over is always more in my book.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
Based on the stage play "Juicy and Delicious" by Lucy Alibar

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