This entry gives away part of the movie Slumdog Millionaire, so if you haven't seen it yet, STOP READING NOW and go see it. Then we can talk.
For anyone who hasn't heard yet, Slumdog Millionaire is a wonderful movie about a boy named Jamal who grows up in the slums of Mumbai, India, and goes on to win India's version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. The movie's structure is awesome ... every answer Jamal gives prompts a flashback that explains how he knows these answers at all. After all, he's a poor kid from the slums. He's not supposed to know anything.
But there was a scene in the beginning that I had to think about for a while before I understood it completely. Jamal finds himself locked in an outhouse when his favorite movie star is visiting his slum. Desperate for an autograph, the young Jamal holds his nose and jumps into the river of shit, holding the photo above his head so it won't get dirty. Then he runs through the crowd, and the movie star laughs at this boy who was willing to wade through shit to reach him. He signs Jamal's photo ...
I wondered about this scene for a while. Why include such a gross image? But then I realized how obvious it was: this one scene sets up everything Jamal does for the rest of the movie. Because ultimately, the movie is a love story, and as an adult, Jamal is willing to ... well, wade through shit for the girl he loves. The devotion of the child is later echoed in the love of the adult.
Beautiful. Just beautiful. Jamal's character is one organic whole, and throughout the movie, I never once found myself doubting that he would love this girl in this way. After all, I'd seen what he was willing to do for a mere movie star.
Now all I have to do is make sure the core of my characters is as solid as this.