Slumdog Millionaire and the BBFC are taking a bit of stick in the Times in an article by Alice Miles. She writes:
There are many reasons why you might want to see Slumdog Millionaire - it is directed by the
brilliant Danny Boyle, it is set in the sensual feast that is Mumbai and it has won awards for music, directing and acting. And then there is the fact that critics and its own publicity have branded it a feel-good movie. Call me shallow, but that
ultimately swung it for me.
A few hours later I was wincing in my seat. The film opens with a scene of horrible violence: a man hanging from the ceiling of a police station, being tortured to unconsciousness, a trickle of blood running from his
mouth. It moves swiftly into scenes of utter misery and depravity, in which small starving children are beaten, mutilated and perverted.
Mothers die horribly in front of their sons, small girls are turned into prostitutes, small boys into
beggars. I hope it won't spoil the feel-good surprise if I tell you that one particularly sadistic scene shows a young boy having his eyes burnt out with acid to maximise the profits of street begging. Charities working with street children in India seem
unaware of any instances of this, although Save the Children emphasises that similar violence against children by beggar mafia is well documented.
The film is brilliant, horrifying, compelling and awful, the relentless violence leavened only by
an occasional clip of someone working his way through the questions on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. You might want to look away, but you can't and, despite the banal storyline, I can see why it is pulling in the awards.
Yet the film is vile. Unlike other Boyle films such as Trainspotting or Shallow Grave , which also revel in a fantastical comic violence, Slumdog Millionaire is about children. And it is set not in the
West but in the slums of the Third World. As the film revels in the violence, degradation and horror, it invites you, the Westerner, to enjoy it, too. Will they find it such fun in Mumbai?
Here is the BBFC summary of the film.
Slumdog Millionaire is a drama about a young street lad who wins the Mumbai version of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'. It has been classified '15' for strong language and violence. (I would add another ten to
The film is in a mixture of English, and subtitled Hindi. Together with several uses of strong language in English, there are also a number of untranslated uses of strong Hindi terms - all of which were considered acceptable under the
BBFC Guidelines at '15', which permit 'frequent use of strong language (eg 'fuck').
Strong violence is seen in a scene where a group of Muslims are attacked and killed i the street - together with general chaos and beatings, there are some
stronger and more explicit moments, such as the deliberate setting of a man on fire, that go beyond the BBFC Guidelines at '12A', which direct 'Violence must not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood'. We also later see strong
violence that includes a knife held to a woman's throat as she's forcibly snatched off the street, an impressionistic blinding of a young beggar boy, and torture by electricity in a police station.
maybe that's it: I just didn't get the joke.