Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, Shane Meadows This Is England and George Nolfi’s The Adjustment Bureau
Consider all three media texts (film) in terms of their genre, their narrative structures and their key areas of representation. Summarise, briefly, their similarities and differences. how significant are locations to the narrative of the films? compare and contrast the representations of masculinity in each of the films. Explore the different roles women have in the film. Do the representations within the film reinforce or challenge typical representations of gender? The three films I have studied are Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, Shane Meadows ‘This Is England’ and George Nolfi’s ‘The Adjustment Bureau’.
Slumdog Millionaire has the typical fairy tale genre and uses codes and conventions such as the theme of ‘rags to riches’ where we see ‘The Three Musketeers’, Jamal, Salim and Latika grow up in the slums of Mumbai and we eventually see Jamal and Latika when they are 18. At this point Jamal has entered the worldwide know game show ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ and at the end of the film we see Jamal become the first to win 20 million rupees on the show. Applying Propp’s theory , we see Latika as the Princess. She has a prince coming to save her (Jamal using the game show to find Latika).
She is taken from Jamal and tortured. Jamal and Latika eventually find eachother and we see Jamal as the Hero here. Happy endings is an important convention of the fairy tale genre. Throughout the film Jamal, Latika and Salim are on an adventure to get their happy ending . Key features of the fairy tale genre is having challenges on the way to the happy ending. For example when we see ‘The Three Musketeers’ taken in by Maman, they are forced to sing and they do not know the consequences and come across as vulnerable.
We see Latika fail to escape from Maman and from this point in SM we do not see Latika until she is 13 years old. SM’s plot follows a non-linear narrative structure. This structure is typical of social-realist films as well as fantasy films. The technique of flashback is used extensively. The audience are active viewers, piecing together the non-linear structure. The chronological flashbacks are juxtaposed with ‘present day’ narrative and is combined at end and here the narrative becomes linear. Using Todorov’s theory we have an equilibrium and throughout the films we have a disequilibrium to the end of the film.
Also using Barthes theory of enigma codes as the audience we see the game show ‘Who Wants to be a mIllionaire’ as an enigma code and allows the audience to get involved and help Jamal answer the questions and find his one true love, Latika. Although knowledge of the show relies on cultural competence. Representation is the way in which the media constructs aspects of real life i. e people, places, age, gender, class, ethnicity, issues, events and culture. The key areas of representation in SM are the representation of women. We see very few main characters as women and see that SM is a male orientated movie.
Many young girls are working in the red light district in India. Latika is represented as a helpless girl that has no hope in finding her friends and becoming free. Women being the less dominant gender is a negative stereotype and shows women working harder and trying to look after the family while the man in the family has gone to work. The representation of ethnicity is SM shows an obvious feature of very old-fashioned rags to riches love story. SM has similar features to Charles Dicken’s ‘Oliver Twist’ and there is a feature of Dickensian about Jamal’s story.
Relating Oliver to Jamal shows that they both started out poor and eventually had a happy ending. Both boys have a female character in their life. Oliver and Nancy , Jamal and Latika. These women act as a rock for the boys in both plot’s. Both Nancy and Latika are used as aims for the boys to have a happy ending. What distinguishes SM from conventional Bollywood efforts is its determination to call attention to the realities of slum conditions in India. Boyle allows us to believe that we have been responsible global citizens by engaging with the intensity of third world slums.
We in the audience even feel genuine sympathy for destitution. But at no point do we have to forsake the delusion that abject poverty and inequity are strictly foreign things for which we share no culpability. The significance of the location to the narrative of the film is important as it creates the theme of poverty for slum children like Jamal, Salim and Latika. It also makes the theme of rags-to-riches more obvious to the audience and what a dramatic change Jamal and Latika have gone through in location change from the unsanitary slums to built-up city with sky-scrapers.
Throughout the film we see the slums of Mumbai turn into a business city and this therefore changes the perspective for Jamal and Latika of where they grew up. We see development change when the game show ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ comes to India. To the audience this demonstrates that India is still a developing country and will continue to develop. This use of intertextuality helps highlight the social divisions between the developing and the developed countries. The representation of masculinity in SM is the contrast between the different male characters.
For example the character of Jamal against Salim shows that they have different personalities and have different dreams and here we see Salim as the more masculine character but Jamal as the more strong-headed character. The character of Prem in SM is a strong wilded character and shows that he is masculine. Prem acts as a ‘villain’ from Propp’s character theory. He is wealthy and successful and has had to work hard in his life to get to where he is. Jamal is going through the same journey but we see Jamal go through it for different reasons. This is shown through his character as being a ‘hero’ from Propp’s theory.
The roles of women in SM is very limited and as the audience we notice that they are used as objects and are less dominant gender in the film. Latika is used as an object and is used in dance for money and is trained throughout her life. Boyle and Beaufoy are in control of the text and determine how they think the audience will respond to the text. By the construction and manipulation of the text to the audience Boyle has constructed the clip of Jamal and Salim’s mother being killed to allow the audience to understand what events could have been happening in the world at that time.
The audience’s stereotype have been manipulated to believe that living in Mumbai is more ruthless than they thought and that the living conditions and dirtier and the ways of earning money is a lot more difficult in India than in the UK. This created criticism amongst the Indian audience. The representations in SM reinforce and challenge typical representations of gender. For example the representations of men in the film reinforce the typical representations masculinity. We see the character of Maman and Javed being a strong male character in the film and represents men as the dominant gender.
The representation of women reinforces the typical representation of gender as we see the character of Latika being used as ‘bate’ and as an object. This represents women as the weaker gender in the film and also tells the audience that they have strong competition against men. ‘This Is England’ is a social-realist film and is based in the 1980’s and shows the life of skinheads. The film is based on the director’s (Shane Meadow) life and how he handled the life of a skinhead during the 80’s and when
The Falkland’s war was happening. T. I. E is an independant film and used a low budget to produce the film, estimated at around only ? . 5 million. T. I. E has a linear narrative structure. The use of archive footage at the beginning of the film allows the audience to understand when the film is set and what are the major events that are happening during the time that T. I. E is set in i. e The Falkland’s War. The key areas of representation in T. I. E are violence (Combo and Milky), racism, social class, women, youth culture and masculinity. The location of T. I. E is in Nottingham. A classic british town in the 1980’s. The location is important to the narrative because it describes to us what people we are about to watch and what class they are.
Also how they have been brought up in their town and what views they have from living there. In the film we see a mixed race living in Shaun’s town and this brings up the key theme of racism. We see an important scene when Combo and the others come across some pakistani boys and Combo is threatening towards them and treats them badly. This is a classic example of racism in T. I. E and we see Combo as the main victim and the shopkeeper as the main target. Also graffiti, derelict housing are all conventional of the TIE’s genre. This also adds realism to the film. The representation of masculinity in T.
I. E is shown differently in different characters. For example Combo is traditionally masculine but he is out of control and has had bad experience and speaks his views before thinking. Woody is a strong individual and keeps himself to himself and speaks his views but watches his mouth. The representation of Milky is combined with the representation of racism. We see Milky being the only coloured member of the gang and this affects Combo at the end of the film and this leads to death. The representation of Shaun is very concealed and we see this throughout the film.
We see this especially when at the beginning of the film Shaun has woken up and we know that his father was killed in The Falkland’s war and this event now becomes a large part of Shaun’s life but also to the film. This point may also relate back to Shane Meadows as he might have had a bad experience which has affected him greatly. The different roles in T. I. E. is very limited as we have very few female characters. The character of ‘Lol’ who is played by Vicky McClure is very exposed as a stubborn tomboy with no intensions of anyone walking over her.
This tells us that she is one of the stronger females in the film and allows the audience to relate to her. It would detract from Laura Mulvey’s theory that all women are objects in the media. Lol is a strong minded person with a boyfriend (Woody) who she seems to be in an equal relationship with. The character of Cynthia (Shaun’s Mum) is played by Jo Hartley is a prominent role within Shaun’s life. This is evident as she’s within the first few scenes and also the penultimate one. We see Cynthia trying to cope with mourning of her husband and trying to keep Shaun out of danger.
John Corner’s theory of the realism in a text is evident when the audience look at the language. The representations within the film reinforce the representations of gender. For example the representation of racism reinforces the representation of men being violent and using the theme of social class. Here the controversial rise of the skinheads created a perfect basis to both reflect and construct these ideologies. With T. I. E being a biographical film about Shane Meadows experiences there is a more convincing quality to accept the representations that the director encodes.
The Adjustment Bureau’ was brought out in 2011 and was directed by George Nolfi. This film is from the hybrid genre (thriller). T. A. B is a blockbuster/hollywood film and uses A list celebrities such as Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. The film cost $50 million to produce and is not an independant film. The narrative of T. A. B is symbolic of transitions and Nolfi drew inspiration from notable structures throughout history that implied spiritual weight. The narrative of the film also creates enigma’s and escapism from uses and gratifications.
The key areas of representation are masculinity, love, politics, Brooklyn (New York) and women. The significance of the New York location of T. A. B brings an international status to the film as the audience recognises the city because it is a developed, business city that is know for particular areas in the business areas. The urban setting creates the film and also brings out Damon’s character’s job as a politician (congressman).
“The Adjustment Bureau itself is an amalgamation of different locations “ – Striem. The representation of masculinity in T. A. B is mainly demonstrated by Damon’s character, David Norris. The role was originally written for Damon and this shows that Damon is a masculine individual that can be trusted to perform at his best. The cast is all men apart from the female lead played by Emily Blunt. This suggests that the adjustment bureau is male dominated and this becomes a challenge for the character of David Norris and he wants the gender level to be equal from falling in love with Elise. The different roles of women in the film or in this case the role of women played by Emily Blunt has an individual gender in the film.
She is the only female character in the film and she is dominated by men. In the film Blunt has a feminine character. She is a contemporary dancer and we see the journey of Elise and David falling in love and fighting against the adjustment bureau for the future they want with each other. Nolfi says ‘The role of Elise was far less obvious casting choice than that of the film’s male lead’. Nolfi wanted the character to be a dance so she could provide a balance to David’s structures, political world. The production audition undred of dancers from around the world, with Nolfi being present for dozens of the auditions.
This is a role player and here women are less important in the film and are dominated by men. Nolfi represents the role women as unconventional and he stereotypes women typically, by placing Elise in high-heels in a chase seen. To summarise, all three films have male dominating feature to them, and in all three films, the main character is male. The representation of men is far more important than women, and the women in each of the films are used as objects and are stereotypically feminine.