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 Pixar.