Midnight’s Children

Midnight's Children***

Midnight’s Children-sp This is a film adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s award winning 1981 novel which he himself slimmed down to a 130 page screenplay from his 600 page tome. Director Deepta Mehta then squeezed it into a 2 hour and 20 minute movie. The film follows children born on August 15, 1947 when colonial India was bifurcated into India and Pakistan. The main character is one of these children, Saleem, who is played as an adult by Satya Bhabba. Most of the other children are apparitions in his head which keep reappearing throughout the film. These children have all kinds of special powers and appear to be an allegory for the wishful thinking of the people who experienced terrible conflicts that have happened between India and Pakistan, East Pakistan and West Pakistan, Kashmir, and probably many other horrific wars that dominated the sub-continent during the past century. The story also uses the fascinating gambit of two children being switched at birth and challenges us with the idea of what would have happened if a child of privileged parents was raised by a poor family and vice versa. When you think of this part of the world you probably envision beautiful unsurpassed countryside, large mansions, women in flowing dresses as well as people living in close quarters in teaming slums. This film is filled with all these images and the cinematography was magnificent and creative. Most of it was handheld with credit going to Director of Photography Giles Nuttgens. Despite it’s unusual length, we found that we stayed engaged with the film. As much as we enjoyed the images, the action and the character interaction, we felt at a disadvantage as we struggled with trying to recall and place in historical context what we were seeing on the screen. This became heightened by the fact that we were periodically introduced to the “magical realism” going on in the head of the main character. We do imagine that the film will do very well in India and Pakistan. It was interesting to learn that there were concerns about threatened protests from the fundamentalist Hindus in India and the fundamentalist Moslems in Pakistan for the depiction of their people or from political supporters of the legacy of Indira Ghandi for the violent destruction of slum areas that were shown. All never materialized. What did appear is a unique epic film that may very well have captured the essence of this time and place.(2013)      

Category: 3 Stars, Drama, History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Comment »

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