Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

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Released 27-Apr-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Alternate Audio-Descriptive audio
Audio Commentary-By Director Danny Boyle and Actor Dev Patel
Audio Commentary-By Producer Christian Colson and Writer Simon Beaufoy
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Making Of-Danny Boyle and the making of Slumdog Millionaire
Music Video-Jaiho Remix - Slumdog Cutdown
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 115:11
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Danny Boyle
Loveleen Tandan
Studio
Distributor

Icon Entertainment
Starring Dev Patel
Anil Kapoor
Saurabh Shukla
Rajendranath Zutshi
Jeneva Talwar
Freida Pinto
Irrfan Khan
Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail
Ayush Mahesh Khedekar
Sunil Kumar Agrawal
Jira Banjara
Sheikh Wali
Mahesh Manjrekar
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music A.R. Rahman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes, Minimal
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Bollywood dance number plays at the end

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Nominated for 10 academy awards and winning 8, this independent French/British feature was the surprise hit of the 81st academy awards. In Australia I remember wanting to go and see the film and found only 2 theatres in Sydney showing it, this changed as soon as the academy award nominations were announced in November, 2008.

    Slumdog Millionaire was a major triumph for its producers, Pathe, Film4 and the producers of the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Celador. Fox Searchlight Pictures were fortunate in their distribution deal, rival company Warner Independent Pictures bought the distribution rights, went bust and parent company Warner Bros doubted the marketability of the film in the U.S. They sold of a share of distribution rights in the U.S. to Fox Searchlight thinking that the film should go straight to DVD. On the contrary, this film which cost $15 million to make has so far grossed $311 million worldwide. With such luck, I am hoping that Fox Searchlight Pictures can continue to make and/or distribute such high quality independent films as Little Miss Sunshine, Juno and Slumdog Millionaire. So why did Warner Bros get this so wrong? Why was this film so successful, against their executive expectations?

    Where Warner Bros went wrong in my opinion was in underestimating the talent of two people involved in the project, director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy. Boyle was responsible for another independent cult film, Trainspotting and Beaufoy wrote the screenplay to The Full Monty. Initially Boyle was not interested in adapting the book Q&A to screen until he found out that Beaufoy was going to adapt the book to a screenplay format. The result of their work together netted the film 8 Oscars, only 7 other films in 81 years have won more academy awards. This film is unlike other Hollywood productions that are slick, well-produced and expensive with emphasis on high-profile acting. In fact, Slumdog Millionaire received no academy award nominations for any acting categories, it is only the eleventh Best Picture Oscar winner without an acting nomination. This film has interwoven the finest features of traditional Bollywood Cinema; rags-to-riches stories, crime epics, gangster-themed films and of course cast dancing (look for it at end of the film!). However, while it may be argued that Boyle and Beaufoy did reference Bollywood films in this feature, I believe one aspect of cinema that is prevalent throughout the film that other critics and reviewers have failed to mention was the indirect reference to the Italian neo-realism of the 1950's. Of course the strict principles of neo-realism was using actors that were non-professional and maintaining integrity of the plot to remain true-to-life. In regards to the later tenet, Slumdog Millionaire being a rag-to-riches story would not fit into the genre of films that were produced in 1950's Italian Cinema that were often tragic in nature. Regardless, the use of child actors to portray the main characters of the two brothers Salim and Jamal reminds me of the 1950 film by Luis Bunuel, Los Olvidados. A neo-realist film with elements of surrealism, this film focuses on the survival of two friends in the slums of Mexico City. Los Olvidados and Slumdog Millionaire also employ references to the works of Charles Dickens, youths that are influenced by tragic events as they struggle with developing as adults. The other element of the plot that has been neglected by reviewers is the central theme of the film. It is not simply a rags-to riches story, nor is it about Jamal (Dev Patel) winning the heart of his girl, Latika (Freida Pinto). Watch this film the first time and take in its many various cultural references, then watch it a second time and focus on the relationship of the two brothers, especially when they are young adults. Salim's (Madhur Mittal) actions reflect the true nature of Beaufoy's script, (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) in giving up his life at the end of the film he is able to redeem himself for his actions towards his brother throughout his childhood.

    The scene at the end of the film with Salim in the bath full of money is iconic, firstly it references Gracchus' (Charles Laughton) similar fate at the end of Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus and also Frank Pentangeli's (Michael V. Gazzo) fate at the end of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather: Part II. Secondly, it mirrors the deliberate creative decision of Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick to always include the bathroom as the key scene of a film. As a cineaste, the appreciation of this point meant that the deeper meaning of the film was not lost on me. The relationship of the two brothers, in terms of plot development, the fine acting from the young, non-professional actors, as well as Anil Kapoor (the game show host) and Irrfan Khan (the Police Inspector) are what makes Slumdog Millionaire truly a great film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is grainy during scenes that use darker colours and night-scenes. The reason for this is explained in director Danny Boyle's commentary. In order to highlight a richer texture of colours for certain scenes, Boyle used a Canon EOS-1D Mark III still camera. This means that certain scenes are richer in colour, but also grainy. This will be true even if this film is viewed on Blu-ray.

    The film was present theatrically in a 2:35:1 aspect ratio. The DVD is also 2:35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced

    Overall the film is sharp and focussed, occasionally the film employs slow motion effects and blurriness, this was a deliberate creative decision to show contrast between the flashback scenes and the present-day scenes.

    Colour is rich throughout, it was no coincidence when this film won the Oscar for Best Cinematography. This film has also been wonderfully shot and edited. (Director Danny Boyle mentions this in his commentary, thanking Charles Dickens for his editing - Slumdog Millionaire also won the Oscar for Best Editing)

    There are no Film Artefacts or damage to the transfer throughout the film.

    Subtitles are easy to read and understand when the characters speak in English, however as the film is about 30% Hindi you will need to be prepared to focus on the subtitling from Hindi to English as it is small and follows the characters on-screen (this is called "scatter-titles").

    RSDL change occurs at 91:27, right in the middle of a scene, so the film pauses in the middle of Irrfan Khan's dialogue. This is unfortunately disappointing. The film takes up approximately 4.8 gb (or a bit over one layer of the DVD) of 7.5 gb in total.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio used during the film varies greatly from scene-to-scene, softer and subtle during dialogue scenes and louder and engrossing during crowd scenes. Again, no surprises that this film won Best Oscar for Sound.

    The movie comes with four soundtracks. Firstly, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps, secondly a Dolby Digital descriptive audio 2.0 stereo track (192 kbps), thirdly the director's and main actor's commentary is in Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 kbps) also as is the final commentary by the producer and screenwriter of the film.

    Dialogue is clear throughout and is easy to understand, however, as mentioned previously, the translation of Hindi may take a little getting used to when the film is viewed for the first time.

    The soundtrack of the film is enhanced throughout, when background music plays during the film the sound scheme shifts from the front to surround.

    Surround Channel Usage therefore is utilised for the soundtrack to the film and certain effects such as crowd noise, planes, gun-shooting during scenes with gangsters and also with audience reactions from the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire game show that plays throughout the movie.

    The Subwoofer is not over-utilised, it is only used for certain effects and only for a very brief time.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Alternate Audio

A descriptive audio track is included for viewers that are hard-of-hearing. This is a good inclusion as the audio track is comprehensive, providing the viewer with a detailed description of everything that is happening on-screen.

Audio Commentary by director Danny Boyle and actor Dev Patel

This is a great audio commentary track. Director Danny Boyle gives extensive information on the background and production of the film, as well as his favourite scenes and an explanation of scenes that were trimmed due to pacing. Actor Dev Patel plays a supporting role in the commentary, adding to Boyle's comments from time-to-time.

Audio Commentary by producer Christian Colson and writer Simon Beaufoy

This commentary is also informative, giving further information about the story (for example the film is not shown in the present tense until about the 90 minute mark) and some of the plot-holes that exist in the film due to editing. There are more gaps in this commentary than in Boyle's and Patel's commentary. This commentary is also more scene-specific than the director's commentary and more matter-of-fact and dry.

Deleted Scenes (34:41)

34 minutes of deleted scenes which were left out due to editing the film's length at less than 2 hours. These deleted scenes embellish the plot so you can understand the game show's antagonistic attitude towards Jamal during the show or why the two brothers left the Taj Mahal when they were making a good living there. This featurette is presented in non-16x9 enhanced widescreen.

Featurette-Making Of Slumdog Dreams: Danny Boyle and the Making of Slumdog Millionaire (22:56)

This featurette begins by showing Danny Boyle working with the young actors during the famous outdoor toilet scene. It goes on to show the background, plot and cast development, issues to do with working in India as well as technical problems that the production team faced. This presentation is 16x9 enhanced.

Music Video - Slumdog Cutdown (5:23)

This is essentially a music video highlighting the Oscar-winning song "Jai Ho" with scenes from the film. This presentation is 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 single-disc release is exactly the same as the Region 4. We are fortunate though that the Australian distributor has decided not to follow Fox Searchlight Pictures lead in offering rental stores a stripped down version of the film on DVD without any extras! In summary, there is no advantage to choosing the Region 1 release of this film over the Region 4 release.

Summary

    A $15 million picture that incorporates elements of Bollywood does not normally top the box office, get rave critical reviews and subsequently sweep the field during the following year's Academy Award ceremony. Slumdog Millionaire is a rare breed of movie that you can sit, watch and enjoy due to it's well-developed plot and characters. Whether you enjoy it for it's Bollywood references, the love story between the main characters or as a homage to a bygone era of film history, neo-realism, there are many levels to this film which appeals to all types of movie fans. If you are a serious film buff or simply enjoy good films, you owe it to yourself to watch this film, and more than once, to appreciate how good it is.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Colored subtitles - REPLY POSTED
Over rated movie - REPLY POSTED
RE:Over rated movie -
Over Rated? - Mark B (read my bio)
Coloured Subtitles - Le Messor (bio logy class)