This sweeping tale of the creation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh follows the children born at midnight on August 14th, 1947, the exact moment of Indian independence from Britain.
Salman Rushdie’s epic novel of 1981 won the Booker Prize. Combining history, magical realism and individual stories, Rushdie wrote the screenplay and narrates, copying the central framing device of the book.
At 147 minutes, it’s beautiful and engrossing, but fragmented and bitty. It’s hard to keep up with and follow.
Maybe another writer could have been more surgical about cutting down some of the words?
Yet there is still much that is grand and perfect here. One of the plots deals with the babies of rich and poor families being exchanged at birth.
The viewer is swept across a whopping chunk of the twentieth century, using the personal stories as symbols that reflect the wider struggles of war and politics.
Each of the children born at midnight has magical abilities. Various cities and characters come and go and you get engaged in their struggles. But as soon as your emotions are involved with a person, you are whooshed away to another place and group.
So, even though it’s a massive cast, I could only follow the stories of a few and can only really remember the tales of the rich boy and the poor boy.
It’s an epic worth seeing. So many of the locations are distinctive and the magical realism scenes are just gorgeous.
The audience at the Stratford Picturehouse all enjoyed it and discussed various scenes afterwards. The very literary and philosophical narration and dialogue give the movie a very real feel for each period in time.
What am I left with? Gorgeous colours and locations. A sense of the complexity of history. Quality of life depends on economic circumstances. Some people have real magic powers. All in all, it’s a gorgeous impressionistic painting of a film that leaves me wanting to reread the book.