Once there was a Hushpuppy, and she lived with her daddy in the bathtub.
So, a few weeks back Angela mentioned that there was going to be one more Underground Cinema before I left the country. We had always intended on going, so we thought we should get tickets for this one once they were released.
Underground Cinema is a secret immersive live cinema experience: their tagline is ‘taking cinema out of the cinema.’ It is held at undisclosed locations throughout Sydney and Melbourne, and it is generally around a four hour experience where you are immersed in the world of the film, and then at the end you are taken to one of Melbourne or Sydney’s classy old theatres to watch the film itself. Every time the film is completely different, the whole production is set up for a few days only with huge locations, props, full sets, bands, tonnes of actors.. it is a guessing game throughout the night to try and determine what the film will be.
So, anyway, Angela and I were planning on going to this as our first (and my last) time. But once the information was released, we were a little skeptical. The theme was water – the dress code was gumboots. The page had a picture of a crocodile, so I was thinking along the lines of Rogue. So we decided not to go.
But something was pushing us to go still – Angela messaged again and reminded me it was my last chance, maybe we should just go and if it is bad we can leave. I agreed, we bought tickets, and that was that.
Until the day of the film. I decided to look at the event page with a closer eye, so I put on my gumboots and my rain jacket and sat down to read. Something clicked in my head – I called Angela and said ‘I think the film tonight is my favourite movie in the whole world.’ I was starting to get super excited.
Since it came out Beasts of the Southern Wild has been my favourite favourite favourite film. I am obsessed. I have been playing the soundtrack on repeat since I saw the film at the International Film Festival, lying with my eyes closed in the middle of the lounge room with the speakers at maximum. There is something about that film – I cry in the opening credits. Not from sadness – from the sheer BEAUTY of how the opening sequence is put together, and how it really shows the beauty of LIFE. I’d been telling Angela I wanted to share the film with her for months.
There were a few things that clicked – the main character (Hushpuppy) wears gumboots a lot of the film. We had to wear gumboots. The theme was water – the film is about the floods in the Louisiana bayou.
And one of the quotes on the page was:
The richness of the human journey is here. Listen. Pass it on. So that there will not pass from our future the enchantment that begins with the honored words, Once upon a time, long ago and far away, in a deep forest, there lived a child – much like you..
I was 90% sure. But then we lined up and one of the actors ran past yelling ‘The waters are comin’! It’s gonna get wet down here in the bathtub!’ The Bathtub is what the characters refer to their little bayou town and surrounding area as.
In my last week in Melbourne, I was about to live my favourite film in the world, a little obscure film set in the swamps of Louisiana. This doesn’t happen to people – they don’t randomly just go to one Underground Cinema, just before they leave the country, and have it be their favourite film. I was so unbelievably lucky. We got to the front of the line and walked through the gate into a cajun party, complete with band, gumbo, fried chicken, alcohol in jars, alligators, snakes, goats, candles and dancing.
I burst into tears. It was surreal, amazing, and such a ridiculously perfect farewell from my favourite city in the world.
Even if it isn’t your favourite film of all time, Underground Cinema is an AMAZING experience. There are not many cities in the world with cool things like this. Melbourne, I reiterate for the thousandth time, you are so much cool.