C103 World Film Questions (choose five out of eight): First question The titles of the films mentioned provide a succinct idea of what viewers can expect upon watching the movie, albeit in distinct ways. In a sense, the movies Amelie, Slumdog Millionaire and The Pianist are similar to each other because they refer to the lead character of the movie…
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The title in itself gives a hint of the plot, somehow one feels that it is bound to be a rags to riches story. In contrast, the movie The Pianist describes a man, caught in the horrors of war, who gets by because of his amazing talents and the compassion and humanity of other people. The title The Pianist is somehow still distinct from the Amelie because the latter is a proper name, while the former is not. The movie Amelie and the use of the name of the lead character as the title of the film suggests an intimacy that perhaps is not there in the two other films. The third movie wishes to establish an intimate and personal connection between the movie watcher and the character, drawing the watcher into the life and emotions of the character. So while all three movies focus on characters, the way they choose to do so are in different ways, all of which, however, set the stage for the unfolding of each of the movies’ rich narratives. Second question The depiction of space and place in the movie Slumdog is best seen during the scene when the two boys who come from the slums work as “tourists” in the Taj Mahal. One can see the resplendence of the Taj Mahal as a towering symbol of Indian elite and it contrasts starkly with the material realities of the two boys who show tourists around. What is striking as well is the ease with which the boys, especially Jamal, walk around the Taj Mahal, as if comfortable in its splendor and luxury. This to me suggests an image of India that is replete with contrasts and dissonances, but somehow these contrasts and dissonances merge seamlessly into each other: as though poverty is used to and not appalled by the obscenity of wealth, and luxury has become so indifferent to poverty. One is jarred to the core by the horrific scenes of child exploitation, as for example a syndicate in the business of collecting beggars and deliberately maiming children so they can bring in more income. And then we are shown the busy streets of India’s gleaming urban landscape, the call center capital of the world where dreams are fashioned from the magic wand of outsourcing. One too is struck by the scene where Jamal jumps into literal feces, an apt metaphor for the lives the “slumdogs” lead. And yet the characters, particularly the poor ones, accept this dichotomy with indifference, even acceptance. The images of space and place highlight the contrasts with clarity, and one is left with an image of India as a country straddling between economic greatness and dire poverty, an uneasy mixture that will soon explode in its face. Fourth question Ciki is a Bosniak soldier who finds himself in a trench with a Bosnian Serb during the height of the Bosnian war. He finds himself in an absurd situation with Nino, the Bosnian Serb, as they confront each other while under threat of an exploding land mine but stop short of killing each other. As the media gathers and international human rights observers join the fray, the exchange between Ciki and Nino becomes an interesting tableau of both the capacity of human beings for comedy amidst the tragedy of war. Ciki is extremely important to the film because he moves the story forward and delivers the necessary decisions and actions to allow the plot to unfold, e.g., jumping over Cera so the bomb would not explode, shooting Nino. Jane Livingstone is also in the film No Man’
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