London Film Festival 2012 – day five: Midnight’s Children
Born at the stroke of midnight as India achieves independence from Britain in 1947, Saleem, and others born at that moment, are special Midnight’s Children, born with magical gifts.
In honour of the new state, and in a gesture of making the rich poor and the poor rich, a midwife swaps over Saleem and another newborn boy, Shiva, so that the child destined for riches and favour, becomes the son of a beggar, while Saleem escapes his poverty and takes his place in a rich and powerful family. Remorseful at what she has done, the midwife enters the family as nanny, to look over the child.
Vast and sprawling, the film weaves together the history of India, Saleem’s story, a family epic and magical realism, where dreams and reality collide in colour and spectacle. Set during the violent beginnings of Pakistan and Bangladesh, the family lives in the seams torn up to create these new countries, and suffer upheaval and changes of fortune.
The displaced boy Shiva, another Midnight’s Child, grows up resentful of the rich Saleem. Destiny plays its hand to cross their paths and test fate. Through war, prison, amnesia, love and marriage, we follow Saleem as his life unfolds with that of India.
This film perhaps proves that Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnights’ Children is truly unfilmable. It is long, patchy confused and uneven, and yet at times beguiling and brilliant.
Read more reviews from the 56th London Film Festival here.
Watch the trailer for Midnight’s Children here: