Visual Analysis of The Scene from The Movie Slumdog Millionaire

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About this sample


Words: 1157 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Nov 5, 2020

Words: 1157|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Nov 5, 2020

“A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.” In this essay I am going to analyse a sequence of 4 to 6 minutes in the film Slumdog Millionaire. I will also explore the use of mise-en-scene and cinematography used during this sequence. The film is about a young boy Jamal who lives in the slums with his mother and his elder brother. Jamal is forced to flee the slums with his brother after the religious mobs attack the slums, killing many people which includes their mother as well. The film focuses on his life and his struggle to find his love Latika, after salim takes her away. Danny Boyle (the Director) uses the realism mode of shooting to give the audience a sense of connection and sympathy for Jamal. The film has shown realism in its most sever and surreal moments. Boyle uses a unique style to create a deep effect of joy and happiness in a place full of poverty, racism and religious conflicts. As Boyle designed the shots to establish the effect of the cruelty and poverty on the protagonist. The film gained a mixed reaction from the audience within India. The Nonlinear narrative of the story does confuse the audience. However, Boyle used the flashbacks in a creative way to tell the story visually rather than using an on-screen narrator. The film shows different stories functioning simultaneously toward a same plot. The story line acts as the answers to every question asked in the game show 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' where Jamal answers every question by remembering his past.

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As the narration of the film is mostly in flashbacks, I will be taking about two different flashbacks of Jamal’s life in the slums as a child. The first one will be (05:44 to 08:55). This scene starts with the children playing on a run way nearby the slums. We can see the bright colours and the use of music portrays a happy childhood. The centred medium shot of Jamal with an airplane over his head, gives a good look of the child to the audience. Suddenly when the cops start chasing the children out of the private land, Boyle uses this scene to show the life in slums from a very close angle. The use of the hand-held camera and the narrow streets or galis portray the spatial area and puts the audience in the actor’s shoes.

Birds eye view of the slums The aerial view of the slums is the only shot that stands out. It is a message to the audience after they have been through the narrow passages by the handheld shots to take a wider look of the slums. As we go further the boys reach their mother, who shouts on them and takes them to an overly crowded school. During the classroom scene as the camera moves into slow-motion, we can see all the kids wearing a blue uniform, which gives a sense of order in the chaotic surroundings.

As we go further Jamal is asked a question indicating to several different things, But the word that stands out is religion. Jamal goes back into the flashback and is transitioned to a bright sunny day. Boyle uses a Dutch angle also known as (the Dutch Tilt) to show the bright colours in form of the clothes on the train tracks and the sound of the train, everything seems to be normal. The daily routine of the residents of the slums. The kids playing in the water to protect them from the heat, everyone seems to be utilising their limited resources in the slums, going by their business. Using general sounds creates a calm atmosphere, the crowd are portrayed as normal people busy in their work, unaware of the trouble that is about to occur. Suddenly the music is gone, with Jamal’s mother seeing the mobs attacking their slum. There is no sound used in the shot, which creates more tension and the audience are focused on the boy’s expressions. The realisation of the attack is brought back with the sound.

The next shot visualizes expressionistic as it only focuses on the mother looking for her sons when she realizes the danger heading their way, after the extreme chaos occurs. As the boys see their mother screaming at them to run, the low angle shot gives a sense of vulnerability and trauma to the audience. Therefore, the audience feels concerned and remorseful for the lower-class people when they are attacked by insurgents for being from a different religion. The tension that is created in the shot with babies crying and people burning, a closeup shot is taken from Jamal’s face to create a sense of horror and pity for their mother.

“Slumdog’s win in the Cinematography category was a big win for digital filmmaking, as large portions of the film were shot digitally. However, a lot of the movie was shot traditionally, in 35mm. Part of the reason the film mixed formats was Danny Boyle’s eccentric style — he is a visually inventive director who likes to push against the boundaries of traditional filmmaking. He and Mantle were also not new to digital — 28 Days Later was shot in the lower quality MiniDV. However, there was a more tangible logic to the decision, especially concerning the scenes set in the Mumbai slums. Shooting on location in the cramped, crowded real-life slums was important to Boyle, who wanted to faithfully capture the mood and place of the community. Feeling that large, Hollywood-sized 35mm camera rigs would draw unwanted attention and disrupt the natural routines of the neighbourhood, Boyle tasked Mantle with finding a suitably low-key digital camera setup.”

In this scene the use of camera work is extraordinary, When the mother falls and Jamal is shown in slow motion feeling helpless for his mother, creates an emotional reaction for both the on-screen actors and for the audience as well. The recurring use of closeups and Dutch tilts demonstrate confusion that produces a sense of terror and power giving severe practicality to the spectators.

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The blur shot while they are fleeing for their life indicates a sense of disoriented visibility out of fear. As the camera follows them going through the people and looking at all the chaos around them gives a feel of suffocation to the audience. Suddenly they shot come’s to a still position in which the boys see a young boy dressed as Lord Rama. Here Boyle again is trying to give a message to the audience through the bright colours of the child’s dress and giving a moment of peace in the chase for safety. Suddenly the music begins again and they colour’s start to fade out. Danny Boyle tries to manipulate the audience with different still shots and change of the colours used for the props etc.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Visual Analysis of the Scene from the Movie Slumdog Millionaire. (2020, October 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Visual Analysis of the Scene from the Movie Slumdog Millionaire.” GradesFixer, 31 Oct. 2020,
Visual Analysis of the Scene from the Movie Slumdog Millionaire. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Visual Analysis of the Scene from the Movie Slumdog Millionaire [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 31 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from:
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