Monday, February 23, 2009
Unless you've been living in a cave, you've heard about the sleeper film, "Slumdog Millionaire". It's collected countless awards, critical acclaim, and last night won Best Picture of the Year at the Academy Awards. I haven't seen the film, but the theme of a person who overcomes a lifetime of adversity is right up my alley, so I plan to pick up a copy after its release on dvd.
I wondered about the term, "slumdog". Apparently the word created some controversy. People wondered in outraged indignation if Simon Beaufoy, the scriptwriter, was referring to the slumdwellers of India as "dogs". When questioned about this in an interview, Beaufoy said that while researching the slums he observed stray dogs and cats lying in the sunshine yet watching everything "from the rims of their eyes". Based upon that he coined the word, slumdog, as a metaphor for the film's protagonist, who learns everything he knows not from intelligence or studies, but through life experiences. I felt sad for the strays as well as for the people living under terrible conditions. Yet I know Beaufoy's analogy was spot on for more than his main character.
Life experiences are a major part of what makes a writer, too.