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The movie “Darjeeling Limited” directed by Wes Anderson and published in 2007 is a comedy-drama film that follows the three characters, Peter Whitman and his two brothers Francis and Jack. The three brothers reunited on a train in India called ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ and go on a spiritual journey to find themselves and seek the unknown after they have not seen each other in a year since their fathers funeral. Francis, the oldest brother organised the three to catch up and become close again after suffering a near fatal motorcycle accident, organising what they do day-by-day as they travel across the country by train. Peter and Jack become frustrated by how controlling Francis is, as tempers begin to boil and arguments as well as a fight take place. They are thrown off the train and stick together in their journey to find their mum who had sent them a letter saying she did not wish to see them. They eventually find her and she brings them in as if they were never apart, the next morning they discover that their mum has gone and continue their journey on another train.
In the early stages of the movie, the first appearing motif we see is the train, as we learn that the three brothers are on a spiritual journey and the train signifies that by being the place that brings them all together and is also taking them on a journey across India to find themselves. We see Francis, Peter and Jack in their suits in their cabin as they are asked for their tickets, followed by being offered a sweet lime and get a red dot put on the middle of their foreheads which indicates the start of their ‘spiritual journey’ as they seek the unknown. They all continue to grieve over their fathers death as they are carrying with them a set of luggage marked with his initials as well as other personal items of his. These are all expensive items and mean a lot to them as they talk about how much certain items are worth, for example when Francis is getting his shoe polished at the first stop the train takes and a kid runs off with his shoe he is very disappointed in losing one of his very expensive shoes. This however is a sign of Francis finding himself and what is important on this spiritual journey as he replaces it with a cheap shoe that was bought from a local Indian market and forgets about his expensive shoes.
We experience two journeys in this film; the first one being a spiritual journey for the brothers and finding themselves and the second is finding what is important in life. Another symbol seen to help the brothers change throughout the journey is the towns and temples they visit, the towns allowing them to see how the poor communities live and what is important to them and the temples allowing them to spiritually find themselves, or at least take steps towards finding themselves.
After being thrown off the train because of a fight that broke out between Francis and Peter they began walking with all there luggage till they come across three kids trying to help each other cross a river until the rope snaps and the kids face serious trouble. Forgetting about their entire luggage and how much their suits are worth, Francis, Peter and Jack jump into the river and try and save the three kids. They manage to save two of the kids, however after the raft flips, Peter and the child get dragged down stream under water and off a small waterfall with the child he tried to save, subsequently the kid dies. Peter carries him out and they all go back to the village to return the children to their family leaving their entire luggage behind. This symbolizes a big step for the three brothers in finding what matters to them and what is important in life. Their stuff is soon returned to them and they are about to leave the next day on a bus when they are invited to the child’s funeral.
There is then a flashback one year; to the last time the three brothers had seen each other before this trip around India, in the back of a limousine on the way to their dad’s funeral back when they were very materialistic. They stopped on the way to their dad’s funeral to pick up his nice car from the mechanics and when they couldn’t take the car, they went through it and took items that belonged to him, Jack quoting “this bag is mine.” Skipping back to current time it is evident the change the three brothers have undertaking from the beginning of the trip when they were first on ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ as they are attending the little boys funeral that they could not manage to save, dressed in white Indian Kurtas with no materialistic items on and afterward all go into the river to cleanse themselves as so do all the other Indians in that community. After this, it seems like there journey to find themselves and what is important to them is coming to an end when they head to the airport. Upon arrival they take a few minutes and meet in the airport bathroom when Francis decides to take all his bandages off and show his brothers the scars he had suffered from his attempted suicide crash. They look at his scares and Francis says perhaps I still need a little more healing and one of his brothers says, but they have come a long way. These quotes have a double meaning as they have all come a long way in their travels on a personal level and as brothers healing what’s on the inside not just the outside.
The quotes go hand in hand with their following actions as when they went to board the plane, ‘there was still more healing to go,’ so they ripped up the plane tickets and went on to find their mother and continue their healing and spiritual journey. They then arrived at their mother’s small palace and she brought them in like just yesterday was the last time they had seen each other. The brothers came in and had discussions as to why she left and her answer was ‘these people need me.’ With this in mind, they went to bed and woke up to breakfast that was made by their mother, however, to find she had left them and moved on again. Having the closure that they have now taken another step in the healing process, they move on and the film ends with the three brothers together running after another train except throwing away all their luggage away so they can make the train and stay together which signifies them leaving behind what is holding them down and not being money-oriented anymore and allow them to continue their spiritual journey and find themselves and what is more important to them, the unknown.
Another big motif seen in the film, is the fact that Peter can’t let go of his father, at one stage stating that their dad had said he was his favourite when he didn’t actually say that and also throughout the whole movie he always has his stuff. One piece, is his fathers glasses he always wears to try and see the world through his fathers eyes, even with the prescriptions still in them and Peter not having eye problems he cannot let go until he finally lets go of what is holding him down and throws away his bags of luggage to continue his healing process with his brothers seen at the end of the film.
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