Sunday, March 15, 2009

Worst Movie EVER

I rarely go out to the movies, and if I do, it is usually a matinee or to the cheap theater. So, it was a big deal for me to go out Saturday night to a full-price, first run film. Four of us, three women potters and one husband, met last night to see the Oscar-winning "Slum Dog Millionaire." What a mistake!

I was shocked, appalled, and horrified by this movie. The abject poverty and overwhelming filth was expected, but the cruelty, hate, corruption and torture was not. The movie centers on Jamal, a poor young man who has just won the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" by answering questions he could not possibly be expected to know, given his deprived background. His story is told in flashbacks, and as the questions increase in difficulty, the level of horror he experienced in his childhood escalates.

From seeing his mother murdered in a raid inspired by religious hatred while the police watched, to living in a garbage dump, to being trained as a beggar by the director of an "orphanage," Jamal and his older brother are abused every day of their lives. Even the school teacher disciplines his students by throwing a book at the boys. The police interrogate the adult Jamal using beatings and electric shocks. When a child at the orphanage is blinded by pouring hot oil into his eyes, to increase the profits he can earn as a beggar, I was thoroughly sickened. My companions and I fled the theater in disgust. As we shared our feelings in the lobby, the one male in the group said, "I'm ready for a chick-flick." We talked about doing something else, but all I wanted to do was go home and hide under the covers.

How the Academy can possibly have thought this was an Oscar-worthy film is beyond me. Even more surprising is how many people I have talked to who saw it and failed to warn me of the horrific violence in this move. To me, this film was more frightening and upsetting than any Alien, Friday-the-13th, Freddie Kruger, snakes on a plane, Jurassic Park type movie because this stuff really happens, every day. Children and women are starving, neglected, tortured, and killed in third world countries, and even in our own so-called "civilized" world, daily. The thought that someone would make an entertainment film about this evil, and that Americans would celebrate it with their dollars, makes me physically ill.

I am ashamed that I inadvertently supported the industry that created this monster. All I can hope is that my $9.00 finds its way past the big-money corporate giant pimps in charge of the studio to succor the people whose lives inspired the film.

It will be a long time before I go to the theater again. Next time, it will be a romantic comedy or something by


NCmountainwoman said...

I never go to movies for many reasons. Among them are that such horrific scenes can be paused on the video and taken in smaller doses. I have heard extremes in the reviews of "Slum Dog Millionaire" so I know I will at least rent the video. Whether or not I watch is still a question.

Mary said...

This is why I rarely go to a movie or watch TV, Kathi. I can't take it. I would have been with you - out the damned door.

I say Here Here! and applaud your decision. Gimme romance and comedy anyday.


holly-the-person said...

I haven't seen the movie but read something last week that saddened me. Two of the young children that played the leads as youngsters - photos of them at the Oscars, at Disney, on the whirlwind LA tour, followed by photos of them back home. Living in basically a dump, 10 families members sharing a one room, tin sided shack. Playing outside where the gutter runs freely with sewage and garbage. The contrast keeps eating into me.

denapple said...

You can walk out of a picture like that, and if you tell the manager why, they'll usually refund your money. I too rarely go to see new movies. They are never more entertaining than the ones on DVD from the 40s and 50s.

littleorangeguy said...


I can understand your visceral reaction to SDM. There were many scenes where I had to turn my head. I had the advantage, going in, of knowing what that movie was going to entail … that it wasn’t simply an entertainment but an expose of what life in like in the Mumbai slums and elsewhere in the global South. The horrible things that you describe from the film really do happen. Just like the horrible things that Charles Dickens described in Oliver Twist really happened to orphaned children in 19th century London. Both pieces, the 19th century serial novel and the 21st century cinematic phenomenon, are designed to make people think about that “underside” of progress and prosperity within the structure of “poor boy does good” fable. Dickens actually succeeded in helping to bring about social welfare reform in Britain. Perhaps SDM will help bring more awareness of the conditions that our global economy creates in places like Mumbai, and move us to acknowledge our part in it and try to change it. I love escapist movies of all sorts but I also love a movie with a strong and truthful social message, and if, like SDM, it reaches millions and millions of people, then it’s done its job ... despite the good questions about the eventual destination of your $9.00.

KGMom said...

Hmmmm--I wonder what she thought of the movie.
No, I know what you thought.
But, life ain't always pretty.
As a lit major, I recall some of the best dramas are downright sad and depressing. King Lear--great literature. But what a sad story.
Macbeth--now there's gore for you.
And so it goes.
I had issues with Slumdog Millionaire, but more because its formulaic fairy tale happy ending, not because it showed the dark side of life.
But, as ever, there's no disputing in matters of taste.