Tonight I went to see "Slumdog Millionaire" the much touted winner of the Oscar for best picture this year. Before going to see the film I hadn't heard much about it (other than that it had won 8 Oscars). I didn't know the plot line, I didn't know who the actors were or what the ending might be. Sometimes I think that is the best way to go into a film becasue that means that you have absolutley no expectations and you are usually pleasantly surprised.
However, what I did hear about the film was that some of the child stars were underpaid and after seeing the film I did additional research and also found that some of the people in India were offended by the film and the term 'Slumdog' and actually petitioned to have it changed.
"...others say the film crosses the line into stereotype in a way that “stinks of racial arrogance” and is designed to undermine India’s inevitable rise on the world stage."
I also found an article which brought up the question of wether or not the film was 'poverty porn', a term I had never heard before. Basically what it means is that the 'beatings, torture, and the maiming of street beggars a sick form of adult exotica.' I do not agree with this statement but I thought it was an interesting, if not slightly depressing, theory.
But I digress...now first of all I want to say that I am by no means a film critic. I don't pretend to know anything about cinematography or composition but I do know what I like and I liked this film. In my humble opinion the best thing about the movie was the story. The story of pain and struggle with a happy ending. Sure, the ending might have been a tad unrealistic but I believe that movies are meant to distract us and make us happy and that is what this movie did for me.
"This is not a story that has been told and retold, hashed and rehashed. It is fresh and engaging - all at once quickly moving, romantic, violent, culturally insightful, desperate and slightly fantastic."
However, another reason that I loved this film so much was that it didn't romanticize the fact that it was set in an empoverished country, it highlighted it. It focused on what Jamal, Salim and Latika had to go through to get exactly where they were-the intense poverty, the tragedy of losing their families, the 'orphange' they lived in and the lives of crime that they lived in order to survive. It not only opened our eyes to the lives of these characters but the lives of many children in Mumbai and that is a good thing.
Another thing to consider about the film was the theme of destiny, the idea that everything in our life is predetermined by a higher power. Althought it seems quite romantic and whimsical I often struggle with this concept. I certainly believe that everything happens for a reason but I am not sure that I believe that we have absolutley no control over our lives. I think that if I knew for certain that everything was decided for me from the moment I was born I would just want to give up...what is the point in improving yourself or growing and changing if God already knows exactly what is going to happen to you? Or perhaps things change just a little with every move that you make in your life....but no matter what you do...you end up in the same place. Frustrating.
"I never forgot. Not for one day. I knew I’d find you in the end. It’s our destiny."
In the end, I just though it was a great movie. Thought provoking, beautiful, romantic and inspiring.