BY JENNA SIMPSON
Midnight’s Children is a much-beloved book by celebrated author Salman Rushdie. It is epic, tragic, funny and beautifully-written, a novel for the ages, a classic of modern literature.
Or so I’ve been told; I’ve never actually read it. No particular reason. I tried once, but I had just read a book by another Indian novelist also set in India, which I did not enjoy–ahem, White Tiger–and I decided I had had my fill of Indian lit for the time being.
In any case, I wanted to check out the film version. I usually rush to read the book before I see the movie, but I’m trying new things.
- Visually, the film was beautiful. There is one particularly lovely part in the later part of the movie that is just gorgeous. Kudos to the visual team!
- Directed by Deepa Mehta (whose elements series, Fire, Water, Earth, I quite enjoyed). She didn’t disappoint.
- The acting was great. The lead actor, Satya Bhabha, was wonderful.
- Salman Rushdie narrated the film. Yes, that Salman Rushdie. 🙂
- Rushdie also wrote the screenplay, which I often, but not always, think is a good idea. Here, I think it was mostly good, although, as you’ll see below, I think perhaps his proximity to the characters may have made him a teensy bit lazy with writing them for the screen.
- Awesome story, overall. Loved that the story was told against the backdrop of the struggle for India’s independence and partition.
- There’s magical realism! Awesome!
My One Beef:
- Character development and depth was a bit lacking. I think those who read the book would have gotten more here, having had some understanding of the characters. I felt that the characters’ development was at times a bit too forced by the circumstances of the story. Sure, characters need to rise to the occasion, but when that’s all they seem to be doing, I’m not sure it’s enough to build really solid, interesting characters. I think the writing was a bit lazy, reliant a bit too much on shorthand with the audience regarding the characters–shorthand that wasn’t there if you hadn’t read the book.
All in all, I did enjoy Midnight’s Children. But I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the book. I was left a bit unsettled, and I couldn’t pin my finger on it. After a few days’ reflection, I think perhaps that the missing element was a prior knowledge of the story and the characters. The movie seemed to be overly reliant on an expectation that the audience would have also read the book. Those of us who had not, well, got left behind a bit.
If you enjoyed the book, then perhaps you’ll also enjoy the movie. If you didn’t read the book, you’ll probably like the movie just fine, but you might feel like there’s something you’re not quite getting.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen it, whether you read the book as well, and what you thought about it![youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXgx6C8PHd4]
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