Posts Tagged ‘danny boyle’

Stories about the end of the world as we know it have been popular…well, at least since John of Patmos wrote his little Apocalyptic story that Christians now call The Book of Revelation.  Even before that, pre-literate cultures the world over loved to tell stories about how the world would end and what would happen after.

As for me, I love Apocalyptic and post-Apocalyptic stories, and I’m clearly not alone.  It’s everywhere in our culture: books, movies, comics, and even music.  We simply love to contemplate what will happen when our nice neat shit goes up in flames.

I have a good friend who is terrified of robots (or ro-butts, as we like to say).  She can’t even stand to see posters for the upcoming 4th Terminator film.  If she were faced with a robot Apocalypse, she would probably throw herself off the nearest tall building.  And her fear of androids is even more profound.  You can’t even mention the Phillip K. Dick book around her.

Pet Zombie!

Pet Zombie!

One of my online writing buddies and one of my college buddies both have full-blown zombie-phobia.  College buddy hyperventilated about fifteen minutes into the nouveau-zombie film 28 Days Later.

As for me, I’m one of those people who’s sure that Sartre was right: l’enfer c’est les autres.  Hell is other people.  For me, neither zombies nor robots are as scary as my fellow humans.  I could only read The Road in broad daylight and I won’t be going to see the movie.

So that’s my question for today: when you think about some hypothetical “End Times,” what scares you most?  Which of the four horsemen haunt your dreams: death, war, famine, pestilence?

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slumdog_millionaireAfter my disappointing Cinemas, I finally got to see Slumdog Millionaire on Saturday.  It did not disappoint.  I’m a fan of Danny Boyle and you can’t help but be impressed by his ability to pull this film together into something extraordinary.  The movement among the different time lines of the story is deft and poignant.  Just as important, the pathos of tragedy never descends into bathos,  perhaps because the film makes clear that this is one more tragedy in a sea of millions of sad, desperate, impoverished lives.

In short, I liked the film and I recommend it, but …  You knew there was a but, didn’t you?

Boyle takes on the real Mumbai and carefully shows us both sides of modern India: call centers full of cleancut technologically savvy young Indians and the grinding, killing poverty that still rules so much of the world.  This is shocking to American audiences, but Boyle softens the blow by making his main characters beautiful.  He has to, because no matter how far Mumbai may be from Hollywood, it is Hollywood that still controls the purse strings, and beauty sells.

I have nothing against watching beautiful people on theater screens, but I try to remember  it’s fiction.  Spending two hours with lovely, tall Dev Patel with his mega-watt smile is a pleasure, but it’s  clear he wasn’t born and raised in a Mumbai slum, eking out an existence against a backdrop of neglect, abuse, hunger, and desperation.

indian_beggarSo watch the film and enjoy it, but keep in the back of your mind that this is not the face of India’s poor.  There are likely some children who are purposely crippled and disfigured to improve their ability to beg, but vast numbers more are crippled and disfigured by malnutrition and lack of medical care.  And those children need help, because they’re not ever going to win at Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Go see the movie, but consider skipping the popcorn and donating that money to Oxfam or some other worthwhile agency.

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