In both ‘Slumdog millionaire’ and ‘Millions’, the director Danny Boyle explores the subject of brotherhood. Furthermore, in both films, Boyle makes the same suggestion that the strength of brotherhood bonds is tested when circumstances change to increase pressure in the relationship. In both films, this theme is explored through the development of the characters in the opening scenes, the rising action and the climax.
In the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ we are taken to the city of modern Mumbai and into the life of a man named Jamal Malik as he attempts to win the TV game show ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ in order to reunite with his long-lost childhood sweetheart, Latika. The film ‘Millions’, also from Boyle, tells us the tale of how the brothers Damian and Anthony react when a duffle bag filled with millions of soon-to-expire British pounds fall from the sky near their house. In the opening scenes of ‘Millions’, Boyle leads into the theme of brotherhood by introducing us to the characters Damian and Anthony through the use of camera work.
The film begins with a montage of many different camera shots cut together to show a bicycle race between the brothers from a train station, to the construction site where the foundations of their new house are being laid. This has the effect of showing the audience that the brothers have a strong and positive relationship, as they are appearing to enjoy themselves in each other’s company. This introductory montage ends with a high angle shot of Damian and Anthony lying on the ground close next to each other after the race, looking happy and smiling.
This, combined with the montage, has the effect of leading the audience to believe that the brothers enjoy each other’s company all the time – whether they are playing, competing or in this case relaxing. Through these techniques the audience is shown the strong brotherhood bond between Damian and Anthony before circumstances change or pressure is added to the relationship. Similarly, in the opening scenes of the film “Slumdog millionaire” Boyle also introduces us to the subject of brotherhood, and the bond between Jamal and Salim Malik, again through the use of camera work.
In the early scenes of the film, a Montage of different shots is used to show the brothers running away from guards on an airstrip, after being caught playing cricket with some other kids from their slum. Throughout the chase, the brothers stick together. This has the effect of introducing us to the characters of Salim and Jamal, as well as making us aware of their friendship and brotherhood. Early on in this montage, a Medium Close Up shot is included, showing Jamal and Salim smiling and high-fiving whilst running away from the guards.
This montage has the effect of leading the audience to believe that the brotherhood bond between Salim and Jamal is very strong, as they stick together even in the face of danger, in this case being caught by the guards. Both the Montage and the Medium Close Up shot address the subject of brotherhood, and show us the strength of the bond between Jamal and Salim before circumstances change to increase pressure in their relationship. In the rising action of ‘Millions’ the strength of the brotherhood bond between Anthony and Damian is tested when they disagree about how the money should be used.
Boyle again conveys this changing dynamic of the boys’ relationship through the use of dialogue, editing and camera work. Shortly after the money is discovered, Damian and Anthony are in town when Damian sees a woman selling copies of the Big Issue. “Big Issue anyone? ” she says, to which Damian replies “Here, and keep the change. ” She responds “Thanks mate. I’ve had nothing to eat all day! ” to which Damian replies, “We’re going to Pizza hut. Want to come? ” At which point Anthony overhears the conversation and interjects “No!
No she doesn’t, she just wants more money! We haven’t got any more! ” Ignoring Anthony, the lady replies, “I’d fancy Pizza actually. Can I bring my friend? ” to which Damian nods. Boyle uses this brief interchange to effectively portray the different views of Damian and Anthony. Damian is shown to be more than willing to help the hungry woman by buying her food, and doesn’t hesitate when she asks to bring a friend, even though it will double the cost. Contrastingly Anthony lies that they “haven’t got any more to try and avoid what he sees as a waste of money.
Soon afterwards in the film, a wide shot is used to show the brothers as they leave for school. In the shot, Damian is in the background, on foot, shutting and locking their door whilst Anthony, wearing sunglasses is framed leaving with an entourage of other kids from school, riding on a bike someone else is pedaling for him. This shot has the effect of symbolizing the two different stances the brothers have taken with the money. Damian has decided to continue his life as if the money had never been discovered, whereas Anthony has decided to use the money for his own selfish purposes.
Both the wide shot and the dialogue symbolize two instances in which the brothers disagree about what they should do with the money. Anthony wants to save the money unless it is being spent on him, whereas Damian has the exact opposite goal. Their different ideals combined with the change in circumstance – the discovery of the money – have increased the tension in their relationship and is testing their brotherhood bond. Similarly, the brotherhood bond between Jamal and Salim is tested in the rising action of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ when and Salim repeatedly betrays Jamal.
Boyle reveals this development of the Malik brothers’ relationship through the use of dialogue. Jamal and Salim have a scam, in which Jamal occupies the long drop for as long as possible, so people pay Salim to get him to come out. Jamal takes to long getting out, and a potential customer leaves. Salim then says to Jamal “You just lost me a bloody customer”. Jamal is unconcerned, and doesn’t say anything. A nameless character then shouts “Amitabh’s helicopter! That’s Amitabh’s helicopter! ” Jamal then exclaims “Amitabh? Amitabh Bachan! Salim places a chair beneath the bathroom’s handle so that Jamal can’t get out. Jamal then yells “Salim, open it! ” We can tell by the way Jamal said Amitabh’s name that he admires him. Salim would have known this, and so to lock him in the toilet when he will probably never have the chance to see Amitabh again is very cruel. As it turns out, Jamal wants to see Amitabh so badly he jumps through the long drop floor and emerges covered in sewerage. He then runs up to Amitabh and manages to get his autograph. Later, Salim sells the autograph.
When Jamal finds out, he exclaims, “That was my autograph! Amitabh gave it to me! I’ll never get another! ” To which Salim replies “He offered a good price, so I sold it! ” As Salim walks away, Jamal says, almost to himself “But it was mine…” This, again, shows that Salim has very little empathy for his brother, and Jamal was also very upset about what Salim had done. Both these examples of dialogue have the effect of allowing the audience to see that Salim has betrayed Jamal, not once, but twice. The Malik boy’s brotherhood bond is being tested due to this is the change in circumstance.
In the resolution of ‘Millions’ Damian and Anthony manage to overcome the obstacles and regain their brotherhood bond. Damian decided to burn all the money, and after he has set it on fire, he sees his dead mother. He has a brief talk to her, and then Anthony comes out to join him. Damian says to Anthony “She said to tell you not to worry, everything’s going to be all right. ” By passing on this message to his brother, it shows that Damian himself agrees with it. Shortly later, a wide shot is used, showing the family crawling through the box tunnel to Damian’s fort.
The fort was a very special place to Damian, therefore because he is allowing Anthony inside, it can be concluded that Damian has forgiven Anthony. The effect of the both dialogue and the wide angle shot is to again address the subject of Brotherhood, and to show the audience the brotherhood bond between Damian and Anthony was strong enough that when the circumstances changed for the better – the removal of the money – they managed to regain their previous relationship. Contrastingly, in the rising action of Slumdog Millionaire, Salim and Jamal have a fight, causing the dissolution of their brotherhood bond.
After escaping from Maman, Salim has had too much to drink and wants to ‘have his way’ with Latika, so he tells Jamal to leave. When Jamal objects, he retorts, “I am the elder. I am the boss. For once, you do as I say” After throwing Jamal outside the apartment, Jamal starts banging on the door. Salim opens it, and points a revolver at Jamal’s head, and says “Shut up! The man with the colt 45 says shut up! Go now, or gun master Jinan will shoot you right between the eyes. Don’t think he wont.
The effect of both of these examples of dialogue is to emphasize to the audience that Salim is more interested in his own desires than that of his brother, whom he knows loves Latika. From Jamal’s point of view this is the final straw, and it seems impossible for the brotherhood bond to return to what it was. In conclusion, Danny Boyle explores the subject of brotherhood and makes the suggestion that the strength of brotherhood bonds is tested when circumstances change to increase pressure in the relationship with both Salim and Jamal Malik in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and Anthony and Damian in ‘Millions’.
In some ways, the films are similar, as the brotherhood bond between the two main protagonists is strong at the start, and is tested in the rising action. The films are different, however, because Anthony and Damian manage to recover their bond in the resolution, whereas Jamal and Salim do not. Boyle’s comments on each of the films are very interesting, and it was impressive to see such varied adaptations of the theme of brotherhood and the different outcomes of each.
Courtney from Study Moose
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