“The Bathtub,” the grittily colorful Bayou region in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” may seem like a difficult and impoverished place. After all, director Benh Zeitlin based it on towns outside the Louisiana levee system that have been destroyed and rebuilt dozens of times and lack what might be considered a conventional quality of life.
But Zeitlin says that he views the Bathtub -- and the real-life towns that inspired it -- as something very different.
“There’s this kind of joyous spirit that's still intact and this culture that’s still intact,” he told the audience at the Times’ Envelope Screening Series earlier this week.
VIDEO: The Envelope Screening Series
“There’s no financial system in that place," he said, "and even though they don’t have technology, there’s an unbelievable abundance of food.... There’s riches that aren’t material."
Zeitlin spent months in the real-life towns, where he discovered that reality firsthand. He said that the people of the region took pride in an ingenuity in which nothing goes to waste. Even an animal struck on the side of the road, he said, would be turned into food or clothing.
That resilient spirit -- which also has led to an unwillingness to leave in the face of natural disaster -- is what drew him to make his movie.
"I was really inspired by that," the director said, "and wanted to make a film where those were the heroes, where the holdouts were the heroes.
How 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' made farm animals mythic
Movie review: Beasts of the Southern Wild
David O. Russell gets personal in 'Silver Linings'
Quevenzhané Wallis rides the wake of 'Beasts'
Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT
PHOTOS AND MORE
VIDEO: Highlights from the Envelope Screening Series
The Envelope: Awards Insider
PHOTOS: NC-17 movies: Ratings explained