Millions (2004 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Danny Boyle|
|Produced by||Graham Broadbent|
|Screenplay by||Frank Cottrell Boyce|
by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Lewis Owen McGibbon
|Music by||John Murphy|
|Cinematography||Anthony Dod Mantle|
|Edited by||Chris Gill|
|Distributed by||Pathé Distribution (UK)|
Fox Searchlight Pictures (USA)
|Box office||£7.5 million|
Millions is a 2004 British comedy-drama film directed by Danny Boyle, and starring Alex Etel, Lewis Owen McGibbon, and James Nesbitt. The screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce adapted his novel while the film was in the process of being made. The novel Millions was subsequently awarded the Carnegie Medal.
Millions tells the story of Damian (Alex Etel), a Catholic school boy, whose family moves to the suburbs of Widnes after the death of his mother. Soon after the move, Damian's "hermitage" in a cardboard box by the train tracks is disturbed by a bag of money flung from a passing train. Damian immediately shows the money to his brother, Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon), and the two begin thinking of what to do with it. Anthony wants the money all to himself. Damian, kind-hearted and religious, had recently overheard three Latter-day Saint missionaries lecture other members of the community on building foundations of rock rather than foundations of sand, an old Christian principle which dictates that self-worth should be based on the teachings of Jesus Christ rather than any other object of worship such as wealth or power. The lecture inspires Damian, who looks for ways to give his share of the money to the poor; at one point he even stuffs a bundle of cash through the missionaries' letter box, having heard about their modest lifestyle and deciding that they too must be poor.
Throughout the story, Damian commits small acts of kindness like buying birds from pet stores and setting them free and taking beggars to Pizza Hut, while Anthony bribes other kids at school into being his transportation and bodyguards, and looks into investing the money in real estate.
The story takes place in the weeks leading up to The Bank of England's (fictional) change from the pound (£) to the euro (€)—an event publicised as '€ Day'. An assembly is held at Damian's school to inform the children about the change, as well as to educate the children about helping the poor. Realising that the money, which is in pounds, will be no good after a few days, Damian decides that the best thing to do would be to give it away before the conversion. He drops £1,000 into the donation can at the assembly. The woman collecting the money, Dorothy (Daisy Donovan), is forced to report Damian; when questioned by the principal, Anthony lies that he and Damian stole the money from the missionaries. Damian and Anthony are grounded that night. When their father collects them from school he chats with Dorothy, and there is an obvious attraction between them.
After the donation, Anthony's friend informs them that a train carrying notes which were to be destroyed after the conversion had been robbed. One bag was stolen in a diversion, while the robber remained on the train disguised as one of the emergency staff, and the money had been dispersed by throwing it off of the train at various locations throughout the country to be collected by the robbers. The boys logically conclude that their money was stolen, and Damian, who thought the money was from God, feels terrible.
Around this time, a mysterious man comes snooping around the train tracks and asks Damian if he has any money. Damian thinks that the man is a beggar and tells him he has 'loads of money'. However, Anthony realises he is one of the robbers, and gives the man a jar full of coins to cover Damian's tracks.
The robber eventually finds out where Damian lives and ransacks his house. Damian had informed his father about the money just before they came home to their destroyed house. The robbery is then explained. The robbers boarded the train. They then escaped the police by dressing as football fans and joining a crowd of similarly dressed fans leaving a game. However, one man remained on the train. He began to throw the money off, to be collected later. The robber who came sneaking around hid in Damian's room after ransacking it, much in the way the train robbery was carried out. Damian's father, who had resolved to give the money back, decided that if the robbers were going to steal his family's Christmas, then he would steal the robbers' money. The family, as well as Dorothy, go on a massive shopping spree on Christmas Eve.
That night, after they are asleep, their house is bombarded by beggars and charities begging for contributions, and seeing the confusion that ensues, Damian runs off to the train tracks to burn the money, deciding that it was doing more harm than good. While he is burning the money, he is visited by his dead mother, who tells him not to worry about her.
In the final scene, the audience sees Damian's dream of the family flying a rocket ship to Africa and helping develop water wells, while Damian narrates over the scene that each family member but him had hidden a little bit of the money beforehand. Damian convinced them to spend this money on the wells he is dreaming about. Earlier in the movie this was shown to be the most crucial and cheapest way to drastically improve the quality of life for many African communities.
- Alex Etel as Damian Cunningham
- Lewis Owen McGibbon as Anthony Cunningham
- James Nesbitt as Ronald Cunningham
- Daisy Donovan as Dorothy
- Christopher Fulford as The "Poor Man"
- Pearce Quigley as Community Policeman
- Jane Hogarth as Maureen
- Alun Armstrong as Saint Peter
- Enzo Cilenti as Saint Francis of Assisi
- Nasser Memarzia as Saint Joseph
- Kathryn Pogson as Saint Clare of Assisi
- Harry Kirkham as Saint Nicholas
- Cornelius Macarthy as Gonzaga
- Kolade Agboke as Ambrosio
- Leslie Phillips as Himself
In a 2014 interview, Boyle stated that, had he and Cottrell Boyce been more confident, they would have made the film as a musical, with the characters singing and dancing. Boyle was interested in having Noel Gallagher write original songs for the film.
The film was a mild box office success, earning £7,830,074.88 worldwide despite a limited release to just 340 theatres, contending with Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds. Around £3,987,642.22 of the final box office was received in the UK alone.
Roger Ebert awarded it a rating of four out of four stars and declared it "one of the best films of the year." He went on to write, ". . . although Millions uses special effects and materializing saints, it's a film about real ideas, real issues and real kids. It's not sanitized brainless eye candy. Like all great family movies, it plays equally well for adults—maybe better, since we know how unusual it is." It was on his Top 10 movies of 2005 placing at number 10.
Christian film critics
Christian publications weighed in on the film, many adding stock to its religious message.
Catholic News Service's Harry Forbes wrote, "Boyle's offbeat tale—with a clever script by Frank Cottrell Boyce—features good performances all around, especially by the remarkable Etel, who displays just the right innocence and religious fervor in delightful vignettes with the saints. The script dramatizes the themes of money and its complexities and the need for societal philanthropy without being heavy-handed, making this ideal entertainment for older adolescents and up."
Sister Rose Pacatte, F.S.P. (AmericanCatholic.org) commented, "Millions engages, inspires and is just quirky enough to be charming." She added, "Damien's familiarity with the saints and his recitation of their biographies is accurate and very funny."
However, although praising the film overall for its positive depiction of the role the Christian faith can play in a young boy's life, there were details some felt marred its religious underpinning. As Harry Forbes wrote, "The film contains a couple of mildly crude expressions, some intense episodes of menace, a momentary sexual situation, religious stereotyping, and a brief scene where the brothers look, with boyish curiosity, at a web site for women's bras on a computer." As such, he explained, "the USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II – adults and adolescents."
Johnathan Wooten of Christian Spotlight on Entertainment downplayed the significance, saying, "Those concerned about objectionable content will not find much to offend here though. There is very little violence (a short robbery scene, a very brief moment of a child in peril). Sexual content includes a glimpse of an unmarried couple in bed together as well as pre-pubescent boy viewing an Internet lingerie ad. When played out the latter scene actually has a strange wholesomeness to it considering his other viewing options. The only profanity is some mild British slang."
The film premiered at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival on 14 September 2004.
- Won, Best Screenplay: Frank Cottrell Boyce
- Nominated, Most Promising Newcomer: Alex Etel
- Nominated, Best Young Actor: Alex Etel
- Nominated, Emden Film Award: Danny Boyle
- Nominated, Best Animation/Family
- Nominated, Best Foreign Independent Film
- Nominated, Best Film
- Won, Best Live Action Family Film
- Nominated, Best Performance by a Younger Actor: Alex Etel
- The song playing in the flashback to the train robbery is "Hysteria" by Muse and, shortly after, another Muse song is played, "Blackout". It also includes "Hitsville UK" by The Clash, from their album Sandinista!.
- The song playing in the scene after they descend from the sky and provide water in Africa is "Nirvana", by Elbosco on the Angelis album.
- The song "La Petite Fille de la mer" by Vangelis also appears in the film.
- Members of the Northwest Boychoir directed by Joseph Crnko sang on the soundtrack.
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- Forbes, Harry (2005). "Millions". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2007.
- Pacatte, Rose (2005). "Millions". Saint Anthony Messenger. Retrieved 26 April 2007.
- Wooten, Jonathan (2005). "Millions". Retrieved 26 April 2007.
- "British Independent Film Awards – 2005". Archived from the original on 8 October 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
- "Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards – 2006". Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
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- "Golden Trailer Awards – 2005". Archived from the original on 4 July 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
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