Slumdog Millionaire

I watched Slumdog Millionaire today, since I get a discount for movies on Tuesdays. Too bad the discount didn’t extend to the popcorn and the soda! Next time, I’ll take my own snacks.

How did I like the movie? I may have to see it a second time to appreciate it more fully. I enjoyed its premise: a man from the slums named Jamal goes on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and he knows the answer to every question because it’s related to an event in his life.

I thought something similar was about to happen to me as I watched the movie. For the last question, “Who was the third Muskateer?”, I assumed the answer was D’Artangan. Why? Because, when I was in high school, a fellow student of mine said he was dressed like D’Artangan from the three Muskateers. But I turned out to be wrong, since D’Artangan was not a Muskateer, but he only knew the three Muskateers. I guess I’d need more than my current life experience to win Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

There were some parts that I did not understand. For example, Jamal knew who invented the revolver (Samuel Colt) because his brother pointed a revolver at him when he was younger. But did anyone mention who invented it when that happened? If so, I don’t remember it, or I missed it. I also don’t know how Jamal got the $100 bill. Was that from the American couple? That looked to be like a 20!

On some level, I had a hard time being inspired as I watched the movie. I thought it was pretty gut-wrenching when Jamal was separated from his girlfriend Latika when they were kids. But them getting back together at the end because “it is written” just did not resonate with me, for some reason.

At first, I thought the characters were pretty flat, but the obvious exception came to my mind as I thought about the movie: Jamal’s brother Salim. When Salim was a kid, all he really cared about was money. He even sold an autograph that Jamal got from a famous movie star, after he (Jamal) had literally gone through shit to get it. Salim also let Latika go when she was trying to get on the escape train with Salim and Jamal. But Salim is the one who kills Latika’s crime lord boss so she can be with Jamal, and he loses his own life in the process. So there appears to be some depth to his character, which may become more evident to me through subsequent viewings and reflection.

I’m not sure why I had a hard time empathizing with the characters. When I saw the miniseries, Queen, I felt for Queen as she struggled to find food as a poor woman of mixed race. I could imagine myself doing that if I didn’t have money. Yet, the characters in Slumlord Millionaire had experiences that were just as bad, if not worse: Jamal’s mom died, the kids were made to serve a crime lord who plucked out kids’ eyes because blind singers could bring him more money, etc. Yet, those scenes didn’t provoke a great emotional reaction in me, probably because I’m not used to foreign films.

One part that I liked was when Jamal had a bunch of fans. I’d expect a lot of poor people in India to be envious of Jamal as he won all that money. Actually, he was their champion! Maybe they enjoyed seeing someone like them getting a break, or they thought that, if success was possible for Jamal, then it could be possible for them, too. I don’t know.

I may see Slumdog Millionaire again when it comes out on DVD or television. There are some movies that I need to watch more than once to appreciate. That’s how it was with Passion of the Christ and Lord of the Rings!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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