Narrative Conventions in Slumdog Millionaire

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Describe narrative features in media texts: Julia Strachan

“Slumdog Millionaire”, directed by Danny Boyle, is a complex, fast pace film. We are taken on a journey through India as Jamal Malik tells us his life story to prove his innocence. Jamal grows up in the Slums of India and with his brother Salim by his side the learn how to survive on their own. Through different life events Jamal progressively learns the answers to the ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ questions. This film breaks the boundaries of stereotypes and has a great impact on the audience. Danny Boyle is an English film director; he won the academy award for best director for Slumdog Millionaire and directed other films such as 28 days later and 127 hours. Three key techniques Danny Boyle uses effectively is Setting, Character Development and Internal conflict.

The convention of Setting used in Slumdog Millionaire is important to the narrative as it helps the audience to establish that the film is set in India. In India you have extremes in close proximity helping to further exaggerate the contrasts between social groups. It also helps us learn more about the characters personality and background and gives a clear indication of the stereo types used.

We are first introduced to the setting of the ‘slums’ in chapter 3: Slumdog title sequence. Ariel shots are shown of the slums, jumping from close birds eye view of part of the slum, to further and further away each time it jumps, till we have a full view of the ever stretching poverty. This contrasts to the setting of the developed high rises of Mumbai nearing the end of the film, chapter 18: Meets Salim who is working for Javed on a construction building. There is an establishing shot of Salim and Jamal look out over the newly formed city, where their slums used to be when they were kids.

The setting of the slums influences the audiences relationship with Jamal, making them more sympathetic because we are shown the hardships and struggle poverty has inflicted upon him. We feel a lot more sympathy for Jamal because he has come from a hard life rather than if he had grown up in a rich, carefree way. The contrasting setting at the end of the film: The city of Mumbai. Foreshadows Jamal’s development as a character, showing us that he has grown just as the city has. Jamal stands tall and strong like one of the skyscrapers built over the old decrepit sheds of the slums, which symbolizes his past. The transformed setting of slums to city also helps move the story forward and show the progression of time. It adds a theme of development and progression to the wider film. When shown footage of the real life slums of India we can see that Danny Boyle has conveyed the slums in a very realistic way, this is to make the characters more believable and to add realism to the story. Boyle made sure to shoot the film in the real slums as this contrasts to the Bollywood stereotype of everything being neat and tidy and also gives a sense of realism. Boyle also used the setting to take the audience outside there comfort zone and give them something they don’t see everyday. Although Boyle has increased the amount of colour that is usually seen in the Slums, this is done to create eye-catching interest in the setting and give a focal point to the viewer eg. We can recognize Latika because she is always wearing yellow this is because in the Hindu culture if you dream yellow, it is supposed to represent struggle before achievement and Latika is Jamal’s dream.

Another convention used that is important to the narrative is character development. Character development helps to audience to further relate the to characters or add a deeper meaning to Propp’s stock characters.

We are effectively shown character development through Salim Malik (Jamal’s older brother). Salim is portrayed as a street smart, selfish character whom does what it takes to stay alive.

At he start of the film he is portrayed as the dominant...
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