Slumdog Millionaire

Posted: August 30, 2011 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Uncategorized
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Part of our task here at Reel Thinking is to prepare you and discuss upcoming releases. Another part is trying to get you to watch (or at least consider watching) some movies you might have missed. Perhaps even better, to cause you to re-watch a movie through the lens of the Bible. You will likely find out that there is much you can re-visit and learn. One of such films is 2008 Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire. It is a great film directed by the lunatic (in a good sense) Danny Boyle, who made zombie movies, sci-fi movies, drug action gritty movies, arm-ripping movies and more; when he got his Oscar he jumped like Tigger.  He is one of the most visually interesting directors out there.

Slumdog Millionaire is astonishing. It is a celebration of unyielding love, of truth prevailing. It is a survival story, a romance, a rough life account and at the same time a fairy tale. It tells the tough story of a boy’s past in India while cutting to the present and telling about his participation in a game-show. The film is sensible, electrifying and shocking. The violence, the music, the Indian culture, all of that contributes to a great film. The basic plot revolves around a boy who comes from a slum in Mumbai and who now has the chance to win a lot of money answering questions in a TV contest. People are baffled that he seems to be getting the right answers; in their minds a boy from a slum should not be able to know much and must be cheating. The movie shows us how he knows the answers through his life story. By this description it may seem like the movie is slow, philosophic and reflective…no! It is rather a fast-paced fascinating account. Slumdog Millionaire lends itself to several biblical discussions, but for that I will need to get into spoilers that will diminish the first-time watching experience. So, please go watch the movie and then come back to Reel Thinking.

A warning: the movie is heavy on violence, much is suggested rather than displayed, but one should know that this is not gratuitous violence, rather it shows hard realities of our world.   A suggestion: DO NOT MISS THE CREDITS SCENE! Seriously, go watch it and then come back.

Here is the trailer, discussion resumes after it

Time to discuss details, spoilers and the like. I’m warning! Come back later!!

Did you see the final dance? This thing has been replicated in college cafeterias all over the country. In Indian cinema they usually have a dance number, and director Danny Boyle paid homage to it; in order to keep the western sensibilities intact regarding interrupting the story flow with folks dancing and jumping, Boyle saved it for the credits. Delightful!

There are several topics worth discussing based on the movie. One of them is simply good defeating evil. The apostle Paul wrote to us that we must overcome evil with good (Romans 12:14-21). Basically, if you pay back evil with evil, the winner is evil, yours rather than theirs, but still evil. In the movie Jamal (the main character) never pays evil with evil, the opposite of his brother Salim. And boy, does he suffer evil. Hitting, forced labor, abandonment, hopelessness, religious persecution, you name it. In all his life Jamal sought to do what was right even if it meant suffering as a result; Salim would often take the wrong path and blame everyone for his misfortunes. Difficult issues, life and death decisions. We must strive to do good but without being simplistic, remembering that evil sometimes disguises itself as good. This has large resemblance to the way Abel and Cain dealt with the issue of how to worship God. Cain sought to define his own path according to his autonomous justice, while Abel sought to do good by God’s commanded ways.

Another important theme is that of unchanging love. Jamal loves Latika in spite of time, distance or tragedy. It reminds us, imperfectly of course, of Christ’s love for his people. His covenantal love does not measure distance or occasion. Jamal does not see her for many years but never stops searching and loving her.

Closer to the end, a police officer says that Jamal does not know how to lie, only how to be true. It is a shame that we are not like that, we prefer to lie and make our lives easier rather than facing the hard realities for the sake of truth.

The movie also reminds us of Jesus in comparing how Jamal was accused of not being who he claimed to be. The TV producer and the police say that it is impossible for a poor boy from the slums be all that he claims to be and know what he claims to know. Christ was also accused of not being who he said he was. The difference is that Jamal triumphs and gets the money and gets the girls, while Jesus dies on the cross as a criminal. That was his triumph as well. In the cross he crushed sin and Satan.  In the resurrection, Christ was vindicated by the Spirit (1 Tim. 3:16), he was proven right, all the amazing claims he had made about himself were proved by his resurrection. This apparent defeat was in fact the true victory not only for him, but for all of those who believe. With this we have the certainty that although we will have to face death and maybe horrible things in this world, we have already triumphed with him and and will be together very soon. Very soon, but not yet.

P.S. you knew it was Aramis, right?


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