Loading
February 09, 2009
Slumdog Millionaire
By Hilary Rowe *

By Hilary Rowe *

A rare word-of-mouth phenomenon, Slumdog Millionaire has captured the nation’s attention in the last few months. To me, the most impressive feat of this movie has been its ability to attract everyday Hollywood moviegoers to arthouse theaters to watch a foreign film. I am still a little mystified by the question: What about this movie has made it so universally appealing?

The plot of the film is a typical Hollywood story: a poor young man battles his destitute circumstances, seeks to change his luck, and chases after a beautiful woman. While the movie’s plot may be basic Hollywood fare, its style is not. In my mind, making this brutal and jarring style of filmmaking palatable to the American public is the Slumdog’s most surprising achievement. I found the film visually creative and even stunning. The poverty of Mumbai’s slums is strikingly uncomfortable, but the camera uncovers a life and vibrancy there that is innate to a place where human persons live, love, struggle, and die.

Slumdog tells the story of Jamal Malik, a teenager orphaned in the slums of Mumbai as a child. Although other characters call Jamal “slumdog” as an insult, the term takes on a quasi-triumphant meaning as his natural honesty and virtue raise him above the desperate circumstances the world and the corrupt social structure have given him.

Jamal spends his adolescent years trying to find Latika, an orphan girl he met as a child, in order to save her from a life of poverty and prostitution. In an effort to reach her, he becomes a contestant on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and finds by sheer luck that he knows the answers to all of the questions. The story of his life is told in flashback as the Mumbai police interrogate him, thinking he has cheated on the game show. Unraveling the story in this way, Slumdog builds drama and the sense of providence in Jamal’s life.

For those who have not made the trip already, Slumdog Millionaire is a film worth seeing. The onscreen violence may be too brutal for children or those with weak stomachs. I have heard the film praised for its realistic image of India’s slums, and I have also heard it criticized for artificially saving its characters from the cycle of poverty in a way that is unrealistic. In a time in our country when a trip to the movies provides escape from the uncertainties of life, perhaps this film’s widespread appeal is not such a mystery after all.

Hilary Rowe received her B.A. in Film Studies and English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2005.  Since then she has worked in campus ministry for FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.  She currently serves as FOCUS Team Director at the University of Colorado.
« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
Sep
19

Liturgical Calendar

September 19, 2014

Friday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 8:1-3

Gospel
Date
09/19/14
09/18/14
09/17/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: 1 Cor 15: 12-20
Gospel:: Lk 8: 1-3

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
09/19/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 8:1-3

Homily
Date
09/19/14
09/18/14
09/17/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: