Danny Boyle : Slumdog Millionaire, it was written…

Danny Boyle : Slumdog Millionaire, c’était écrit…

2008. After he made a name for itself among lovers of film and genre and generation Trainspotting, Danny Boyle switches to a shot in the consciences popular, narrating the incredible destiny of a kid in the streets of Bombay. Love story, thriller nervous, realistic vision and image of India, but above all the tale, with its universal message, Slumdog Millionaire is going to travel the world, win the support of all the public and walking away with many awards along the way. A success which owes nothing to chance…


Rooted in indian civilization very spiritual, it was quite logical that the film has for its main theme the destiny. It is this which will govern the whole structure of the film, either in the scenario or its mounting. In fact, the story of Slumdog millionaire is based entirely on the fact that the different elements of the life of Jamal, the hero, will allow him to come out the winner of Who wants to be a millionaire, and as well find the love of his life, as if everything was already written. The mounting layer perfectly on this approach and increases the felt this destiny by connecting perfectly to the different periods of the life of Jamal. The flashbacks are in fact as they dive into the head of the hero, in his memories.

Slumdog millionaire is a film that is written in the timeline, which allows you to bind unconsciously of the ideas in the mind of the viewer. Reflected in this plan a second of Latika at the beginning of the movie when the game Who wants to be a millionaire is launched. Even though the character has not yet been mentioned, it clearly explains the motivations of the hero to participate in the game are absolutely not financial (which will not be told explicitly only much later). When Latika appears as the symbol for Jamal, the one who governs all his actions, his hope and his reason for living.

The true first appearance of Latika is at the end of twenty minutes, but during a key scene, that of the attack of the slum and the death of the mother of Jamal. The sequence that follows, to the prophetic character, will clearly place the role of Latika. This sequence also installs the fates opposed, but related, Jamal and his brother Salim. Together in the same frame, but separated by a first and a second plane, and a sublime play of light, the two brothers sealed their fates by reacting in the opposite manner of the death of their mother. Salim is going to live in fear (the child pretends to sleep but keeps his eyes wide open) and reject the others, while Jamal will be open to the world and, more particularly, Latika (at the start in the third plan, it joined that of Jamal on his invitation). The scene also poses the bases of the relationship between Salim and Jamal, a brother who takes the role of a leader and another who does not hesitate to disobey him to achieve his purposes. This relationship between the two brothers had previously been exposed in a humorous way in the sequence of the toilet, during which time Jamal was ready to literally dive into the shit to get what he wanted, and this in spite of the barriers created by his brother.

Salim will try so in vain to return several times in the destiny of his brother. During the flight from the camp of the villains where he left Latika, or even when the two brothers found several years after. A sequence beautiful, which starts with two different looks, and revelators of the two brothers watching, through a keyhole, a Latika dancing. The result of the scene did switch the destinies of the two brothers, who are going to take paths opposed to it. Salim kills his mentor, the better to take its place, and once again tries to steal the dreams of his brother, by violating Latika. However, there is indeed an indestructible bond between Jamal and Salim, in particular, sublimely represented in the musical sequence on the train, where the two children fall asleep hand in hand, as if they were praying, or even in that of the building under construction from which the two brothers overlooking their former slum transformed into a business district.

This fixed connection will be essential to the realization of the dreams of Jamal. While his fate seems sealed, as evidenced by the imprisonment of Latika in the house of Jared (the end of the sequence of a reunion between the two lovers ends with an exchange of glance behind the grilles of the gate), it is the redemption of Salim, who will be one of the decisive factors of the success of Jamal. The sequences of the death of Salim and the victory of Jamal, moreover, are mounted in parallel. This is so because Salim chooses to kill his hand, dark to allow his humanity to regain the top (see the mirrors in the scene) and ask forgiveness for the scars it has left behind, that the wounds of the past can be dressed. An idea perfectly transcribed by the wonderful kiss Jamal on the scar of Latika, mounted in parallel with a flashback on the origin of this wound, that sees, upside down, as if his horrible memories had been erased behind the happiness that now awaits our heroes.

Esthétiser the reality

Behind its allure of entertainment, Slumdog millionaire is also a portrait of today’s India, and especially Mumbai, with its contrasts, its atmosphere, its evolution… A portrait of the sauce Dany Boyle, however, it is to say, with an acute sense of the aesthetic, but that takes nothing away from the social realism that is portrayed.

For reasons of practicality, the entire film was shot with digital cameras SI2K, more light, small and handy. In fact, most of the sequences in the outside it was filmed in the middle of the crowd, without that the streets have been sentenced, to stick to the more close to the reality. This aspect is felt more particularly in the sequence of removal of Latika at the train station Victoria, in the course of which it feels perfectly the excitement of the place. In addition, some sequences have been filmed with a Canon Eos Mark II, a camera that can take 11 frames/second, which gives an aspect very particular to the image, very jerky. This is notably the case of several that were shot at the Taj Mahal, the movie cameras are prohibited in certain areas of the site. Some plans of streets, like those of children who beg, are in fact real pictures taken on the spot. All this confers to give it to Slumdog millionaire, and more particularly to certain sequences, a dynamic similar to a documentary.

But as we mentioned earlier, Danny Boyle is not the type of director to be done in the staging uncluttered. A sequence shows well the mixture between one side realistic and documentary, and a very narrative and cinematic, it is the discovery of the slum. The shots were filmed in real slums and show the daily life of the places. The camera is as a scope in the shoulder, very moving. The first dive of the spectator in this environment is very upbeat, following the path of two children pursued by the police. This idea of story as well as a mount and a camera very dynamic show the slum as a playground for his children, and make it stand out all the life that exists there, rather than exacerbating the poverty that reigns there. This introduction is also a desire for Dany Boyle to facilitate the entry of the western public in this universe that is unknown, especially as the first part of the film will be entirely in hindi.

The bias of staging can also help make more bearable some times quite violent film, without, however, diminishing the impact. For example, the attack of the slum muslim by hindu extremists remains realistic enough but is told through the childhood memories of Jamal. Suddenly the whole area is pretty fuzzy, and messy, which allows you to make images that shock. The viewer as the child is a bit lost, do not understand everything, but feels strongly the impact of what is happening. The only thing that includes Jamal and that it remains in mind is the idea that it is the god Râm, which seems to be the cause of it all. A part of dream of the scene, when he finds himself head to head with the god, alludes to this and gives one side more surreal in the sequence.

This surreal feeling is used, even more pronounced in the sequence of the blindness of the child by Mom. Nothing is shown, everything is suggested, but to give a certain atmosphere of anxiety, Danny Boyle filmed the sequence like a fantastic film. The scene, which is supposed to happen at night, was tour day in a setting covered with paintings paved, with lighting that opposes a blue atmosphere and the light sources yellow. This gives to the whole an atmosphere of fantasy film filmed in a studio, as a kind of nightmarish tale to a child.

But behind this idea of aestheticization of reality, there is also a willingness by Danny Boyle to get closer to the local cinema, the Bollywood.

An air bollywood

Slumdog Millionaire can be described as a masala, a term that denotes in indian cinema a film, mixing several genres. Here the thriller alongside the adventure, the chronic social, comedy, drama but above all it is the romance that predominates over the rest, as often in the cinema of Bollywood. The film also offers a beautiful place to the music, as is often the case with Danny Boyle. The BO of A. R. Rahman, a famous composer of india, is a surprising mix between oriental music and western, which combines in a very effective manner the universe of the filmmaker to that of Bollywood. The dance, the other major element of the indian cinema, appears several times in the film. These include in particular a sequence where Latika is dancing in the purest style of bollywood, and of course the final, a sort of clip totally disconnected from the rest of the film, another characteristic of Bollywood. The staging clippesque, a style very appreciated by Boyle and which has greatly influenced the indian cinema, is also an important place in the film. Finally, the use of very sharp colors ends up giving his key bollywoodienne to Slumdog Millionaire.

In its production also the film is rooted a lot in the cinema of Bollywood. The majority of the technical team was indian, as are most of the actors. The cast includes actors novices (revelation Freida Pinto, but also of street kids to play the characters as children), and of the actors confirmed for the indian cinema, whose star Anil Kapoor. The film also has a coréalisatrice indian, Loveleen Tandan. Initially casting director, she ended up becoming a director of the second team, and has especially helped to the leadership of the young interpreters who spoke little English. In fact, the film has the distinction of having an entire party in hindi, falling in line with the modern trend of indian cinema in hinglish, a mixture of hindi and English, the goal of which is openness to globalization. A successful introduction to Slumdog millionaire, which managed to conquer the entire planet. Let’s hope that with the vibrant homage that it pays to the cinema of Bollywood, it will bring in its furrow some productions made in India.


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