What is Danny Boyle ACTUALLY asking in his Oscar Nominated Movie?
Many of my friends love Slumdog Millionaire, considering it to be one of the best movies of the year. Their reasons seem limited to the fact that it's just a very fun movie to watch. I agree. But other than it being "fun" I don't really have much else to say about it. Danny Boyle seems to be hiding behind a veil of aesthetic originality rather than exploring anything interesting. Trainspotting dealt with the absurdity of middle-class life leading to drug addiction, 28 Days Later was exploring the potential of wide spread disease in the form of zombie-esque madness, The Beach dealt with issues of civil society facing the absence of moral authority, Sunshine questioned the psychological effects of space and the unknown, and yes I am summing up these themes way too broadly.
So what was Slumdog doing? I understand it was the question of fate and everything being "pre-written" by some extravagant deity, but does anyone truly believe this? I personally believe in fate to the degree that it presents a series of decisions and challenges that stands the chance of leading to a certain, happy destination. As Kierkegaard says, "The greater the risk, the greater the passion." You may be lead to the precipice of happiness, but only you can be the one who jumps. For example, a person without reason puts his wallet on a table, forgetting it the next day when he leaves. Arriving at the bus stop he forgets his pass, returns home, goes back and meets a beautiful girl who he falls in love with. Was the fate meeting the beautiful girl, or was fate that which told the man to take out his wallet in the first place? What guides those unjustified feelings and actions that can lead to “fate” situations? Think about where you are, what you’re feeling or what you have, what brought you there? And how did you arrive at that which brought you there?
I am admittedly a bit bias in my regard towards believing that fate can bring two people together at this age. I would describe why but it’s not that interesting. I advise you to read Carl Sagan’s Varieties of Scientific Experience, specifically his idea of Earth as a pale blue dot. Basically to sum up the conclusion, if God exists, why would he care about two star-crossed lovers considering the size of the Universe and all the other potential life forms? The people of Earth are a grain of sand, on a grain of sand, on a grain of sand, on a grain of sand. So Danny Boyle is assuming that God wrote out the “fate” for a few, tiny entities existing within an infinite Universe? For what purpose? What is the POINT?! While fate might benefit someone like our new President who produces a larger good, what does fate bring from two lovers?
As far as Slumdog Millionaire seems to argue, Jamal inspires all the other “slumdogs” out there. Makes sense, but are all these people to be aspiring contestants on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I mean honestly consider what we’re being told – that Jamal knew ALL of the answers to get the questions except ONE based memorable events in his life? What the hell are the chances of this?
So let’s go through this. God had some sort of extravagant plan laid out for two RANDOMLY selected individuals, manifested through knowing the answers to a GAME SHOW because of his past experiences! Uh…seems a bit unfair for the other 5.3 billion people out there living in poverty – such as the blind kid who is forced to pan for money in a train terminal, and the tons of other slumdogs out there who had it even worse than him. Where are their beautiful, long-lost loves? Why is Jamal so lucky? He gets not just a beautiful girl, but a million dollars! He gets it all not through everyday means, but through this CRAZY (understatement) fate-based method. What would be God’s purpose for all of this?!
Jamal may have inspired a nation, but will it actually mean anything for the impoverished billions? Hardly any of them will be on television, hardly any of them will find love, hardly any of them will escape the slum, hardly any of them will win a million dollars, hardly any of them will live relatively happy lives. This is not cynicism; it is reality. Are we to believe that God came along, granted these two people joy and happiness and jipped everyone else? If so, that seems like a pretty unfair God – one who is SUPPOSE to exhibit omnibenevolence, omnipresence, and omnipotence. It as if Boyle is telling everyone else to except the miniscule amount of happy presented to them solely through inspiration and except that God is picking lottery balls. So much for the blind kid, the brother and all those who are starving to death during Jamal's big win, or dying from disease, famine or muder.
While I am still battling my own questions and doubts regarding a higher power, I rest assured that should such a Being exist I'm fairly certain that It treats everyone with an equal amount of POTENTIAL happiness. Hence, as is quoted in Can’t Hardly Wait – [Fate] only takes you so far. Then it's up to you to make it happen. Who would figure such a movie would have one of the most profound lines in film? Who knew such a movie could explore so much GREATER of a question than what will probably win best picture? And yet it gets nothing. I'll leave that paradox up to you.