[Film: Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle, 2009]
All’s Unwell that Only Ends Well:

The Inconsistent Meaning of Life in Slumdog Millionaire

 

Danny Boyle Sketch by M.R.P. - Slumdog Millionaire - analysis, meaning of life

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.
[High-res prints available here]

Introduction:

The notion of an overarching, providential justice overseeing and directing all human events, while out of vogue in modern philosophy, remains a huge influence on popular culture. That this sort of determined or corrective justice acts not just generally across time, but within a given life, is a particularly attractive thought to the creators of the fictive tales of the film industry. The reasons for this are myriad, bringing to both content creators and audiences an appeasement of their desire to see good things happen to good people; their desire to see bad things happen to bad people; and their desire to witness miraculous or incredible events.

The 2009 Academy Award winner for Best Picture (and other categories) was Slumdog MillionaireSlumdog Millionaire, a case-in-point of the populace’s penchant for fictionalized treatments of karmic justice, as directed by Danny Boyle. This concept of overarching justice can be understood by its relation to the philosophical topic of internal meaning. For a human life to have internal meaning, it must be good for the person who lives it and it must include worthwhile activities (for a more detailed account of meaning, see this encyclopedia entry). Ultimately, Slumdog Millionaire seems to put forward a short-sighted account which contends that a life can be internally meaningful if it contains worthwhile activity and if, by way of some kind of providence, it ends up being good for the person who lives it.

Continue reading

[Film: Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle, 2009]
All’s Unwell that Only Ends Well:

The Inconsistent Meaning of Life in Slumdog Millionaire

was last modified: June 20th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Film: The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan, 1999]
The Unaccountable Masterpiece:

M. Night Shyamalan’s Bafflingly Excellent The Sixth Sense

 

It is a rare case that someone would have been better off if the apocalypse had occurred during their lifetime, but this certainly seems so of writer and director M. Night Shyamalan. After all, if Y2K had been the civilization-crippling event it was projected to be, and 1999’s The Sixth SenseThe Sixth Sense was being screened in front of a huddled collection of survivors in a dystopian auditorium on a jury-rigged projector, Shyamalan’s stunted career would be considered an artistic loss on par with the early deaths of Wilfred Owen, Janis Joplin, and John Keats.

As it stands, however, the director who Newsweek Magazine once labeled “The Next Spielberg” has churned out poorer and poorer examples of writing and directing over the years, and may have hit rock bottom with the consecutive failures of the laughable The Happening, the disappointing Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the clumsy After Earth.

Even if the tentatively positive reviews of his newest film, The Visit, are heralds of an upswing in the quality of his later career (which would be a twist worthy of a Shyamalan script), it is unlikely that anyone will ever put him on a pedestal again. Still, nothing that has happened in the last fifteen years has diminished the quality or achievement of The Sixth Sense, and what I would like to do is take a close look at Shyamalan’s early hit, and explore the many ways that this demonstrably bad writer and director got everything so very right.

Continue reading

[Film: The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan, 1999]
The Unaccountable Masterpiece:

M. Night Shyamalan’s Bafflingly Excellent The Sixth Sense

was last modified: March 31st, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski