Sometimes I feel like Tammy Wynette – “it’s hard to be a . . .” film studies teacher/writer when there is a figure like David Bordwell around. For several weeks, I’ve spent odd moments thinking about Slumdog Millionaire, writing a couple of short pieces on the film here and elsewhere and planning for a couple of sessions where I hope to explore with teachers how the film might be used in work on Global Media (on a UK A Level Media syllabus).
Now I discover that Bordwell has already done most of the research and published it on his blog. There might be a couple of points he hasn’t quite exhausted, but it’s all there otherwise with some great links and references that I’ll certainly be pursuing. I guess what pisses me off is that Bordwell seemingly has access to a print or a DVD of the film since he uses stills extensively. He also references a range of films I haven’t seen, including a neorealist film (Miracle in Milan) which I don’t think is available in the UK, as well as a range of 1950s Hindi films that I should have watched. So, do yourself a favour and read David Bordwell’s piece – you won’t be sorry, but you’ll probably feel that you need to see a lot more films.
One thing that Bordwell suggests is certainly worth recording – the sheer volume of blogging that Slumdog has prompted from a variety of sources and the range of debates that seem to have opened up. This in itself is worth study. The cultural questions that the film’s production and release raise come from an uneasy triangular relationship between India, the UK and the US. In cinema, it does seem to me that the focus has shifted away from India-UK to India-US. I wonder if the intervention of Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy will help to shift the attention back a little?