The Darjeeling Limited
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|The Darjeeling Limited|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Wes Anderson|
|Produced by||Wes Anderson
Lydia Dean Pilcher
|Written by||Wes Anderson
|Cinematography||Robert D. Yeoman|
|Edited by||Andrew Weisblum|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|October 26, 2007|
|Box office||$35 million|
The Darjeeling Limited is a 2007 comedy-drama film directed by Wes Anderson, and starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman. It was written by Anderson, Schwartzman, and Roman Coppola. The film also features Waris Ahluwalia, Amara Karan, Barbet Schroeder, and Anjelica Huston, with Natalie Portman, Camilla Rutherford, Irrfan Khan and Bill Murray in cameo roles.
On a train in India, called "The Darjeeling Limited", Peter Whitman (Adrien Brody) reunites with brothers Francis (Owen Wilson) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman). The three have not seen each other since their father's funeral a year prior, and having recently survived a near-fatal motorcycle accident, Francis wishes to reconnect with his brothers on a journey of spiritual self-discovery. The three continue to grieve over their father's death, carrying with them a large set of luggage marked with his initials, along with other personal items of his.
The train takes the brothers through the countryside and en route they visit towns and Hindu temples. Animosity builds as Jack and Peter become annoyed with Francis' controlling behavior, and Jack has a romantic encounter with the train's stewardess, Rita (Amara Karan). Francis eventually reveals that they will be meeting with their mother (Anjelica Huston), who has become a nun living in a Christian convent in the Himalayas. The brothers' bad behavior on the train causes the Chief Steward (Waris Ahluwalia) to have them thrown off. At the same time they receive a letter from their mother suggesting she does not wish to see them, and decide to return to the United States.
While traveling through the countryside, the brothers attempt to save three young boys from drowning in a river, and succeed in saving two, with Peter's child being dashed against rocks. They carry his body back to the boys' village, where they spend the night and are warmly treated. They attend the funeral the next day, and a flashback sequence shows events that took place when the three brothers were en route to their father's funeral.
The brothers are on the way to the funeral when they learn that their mother won't be attending. They stop at an auto shop to retrieve their father's car and drive it to the funeral. The mechanic tells them that the car is not running yet, but they start it anyways and drive into the street, nearly colliding with a tow truck. The tow truck driver confronts them, and the brothers threaten him until he leaves.
The brothers arrive at an airport but change their mind about leaving just before boarding the plane. They travel to the convent and meet their mother. During the night, the brothers confront their mother for abandoning them. The next morning, they awake to find their mother gone.
Traveling to a railway station to catch another train, the brothers arrive after it has begun to depart. Chasing it, they realize they will be unable to catch it weighed down with their father's suitcases. The brothers fling their baggage away and jump onto the back of the train.
Anderson also wrote and directed the 2007 short film Hotel Chevalier, starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman. The 13-minute film acts as a prologue to The Darjeeling Limited. In it, Jack's ex-girlfriend (Natalie Portman) turns up unexpectedly at his hotel room in Paris, and they spend the night together. Originally attached to festival screenings of The Darjeeling Limited, it was removed during the limited theatrical release and instead made available on Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store as a free download. On October 26, 2007, Hotel Chevalier was removed from iTunes in favor of releasing it in theaters with the wide release of The Darjeeling Limited.
- Owen Wilson as Francis Whitman
- Adrien Brody as Peter Whitman
- Jason Schwartzman as Jack Whitman
- Anjelica Huston as Sister Patricia Whitman
- Waris Ahluwalia as The Chief Steward
- Amara Karan as Rita
- Natalie Portman as Jack's ex
- Wallace Wolodarsky as Brendan
- Bill Murray as The Businessman
- Camilla Rutherford as Alice Whitman
- Barbet Schroeder as The Mechanic
- Irrfan Khan as The Father
Themes and motifs
The Darjeeling Limited includes many of Anderson's signature themes and styles, such as despair, abandonment, sibling relationships, a privileged class who rarely work, and timeless fashions and props. Anderson has revealed that The River by Jean Renoir, the films of Satyajit Ray and documentaries on India by Louis Malle were his inspirations for this movie. The film was dedicated to Ray and makes allusions to him and his work.
Much of the film was shot in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The Himalaya scenes were shot in Udaipur, and the opening scene of the film was also shot on the streets of Jodhpur. The International Airport shown near the end is the old terminal building of Udaipur Airport. The scenes set in New York were shot in Long Island City.
The soundtrack features three songs by The Kinks, "Powerman", "Strangers" and "This Time Tomorrow", all from the 1970 album, Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, as well as "Play With Fire" by The Rolling Stones. "Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)" by Peter Sarstedt is prominently featured as well, being played within the film more than once. Most of the album, however, features film score music composed by Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray, Merchant-Ivory films, and other artists from Indian cinema. Director Wes Anderson has said that it was Satyajit Ray's movies that made him want to come to India. The works include "Charu's Theme", from Ray's 1964 film, Charulata, film-score cues by Shankar Jaikishan and classic works by Claude Debussy and Ludwig van Beethoven. The film ends with the 1969 song "Les Champs Élysées" by French singer Joe Dassin, who was the son of blacklisted American director Jules Dassin.
The Darjeeling Limited made its world premiere on 3 September 2007 at the Venice Film Festival, where it was in competition for the Golden Lion and won the Little Golden Lion. The film's North American premiere was on 28 September 2007 at the 45th annual New York Film Festival, where it was the opening film. It then opened in a limited commercial release in North America on 5 October 2007. The film opened across North America on 26 October 2007 and in the UK on 23 November 2007, in both territories preceded in showings by Hotel Chevalier. The film grossed $134,938 in two theaters in its opening weekend for an average of $67,469 for each theater.
The film (widescreen edition) was released on DVD 26 February 2008 on Fox Searchlight, with features limited to a behind-the-scenes documentary, theatrical trailer, and the inclusion of Hotel Chevalier. The film was re-released by the Criterion Collection on 12 October 2010 on both DVD and Blu-ray, the latter being the film's first release on the format.
The film received generally favorable reviews. As of April 2015[update], on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 68% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 188 reviews, with a consensus among critics that the film "will satisfy Wes Anderson fans." On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 67 out of 100, based on 35 reviews. The film has a rating of 7.2 out of 10 on the Internet Movie Database.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave 3.5 out of 4, calling the film's Indian context as one of its main highlights. Ebert singled out Anderson's script, which, according to Ebert, "uses India not in a touristy way, but as a backdrop that is very, very there." Chris Cabin of Filmcritic.com gave the film 4 stars out of 5 and described Anderson's film as "the auteur's best work to date." Entertainment Weekly film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum gave the film a "B+" and said "This is psychological as well as stylistic familiar territory for Anderson after Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. But there's a startling new maturity in Darjeeling, a compassion for the larger world that busts the confines of the filmmaker's miniaturist instincts." A.O. Scott of The New York Times said that the film "is unstintingly fussy, vain and self-regarding. But it is also a treasure: an odd, flawed, but nonetheless beautifully handmade object as apt to win affection as to provoke annoyance. You might say that it has sentimental value."
Timothy Knight of Reel.com gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and said "Although The Darjeeling Limited pales in comparison to Anderson's best film, Rushmore (1998), it's still a vast improvement over his last, and worst film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)." Nathan Lee of The Village Voice wrote "A companion piece to Tenenbaums more than a step in new directions, Darjeeling is a movie about people trapped in themselves and what it takes to get free — a movie, quite literally, about letting go of your baggage." The Christian Science Monitor critic Peter Rainer said "Wes Anderson doesn't make movies like anybody else, which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes not. His latest, The Darjeeling Limited, combines what's best and worst about him." New York Magazine critic David Edelstein said that the film is "hit and miss, but its tone of lyric melancholy is remarkably sustained."
Nick Schager of Slant Magazine gave the film 2 stars out of 4 and said "the ingredients that have increasingly defined Wes Anderson's films...seem, with The Darjeeling Limited, to have become something like limitations." Emanuel Levy gave the film a "C" and said "Going to India and collaborating with two new writers do little to invigorate or reenergize director Wes Anderson in The Darjeeling Limited, because he imposes the same themes, self-conscious approach, and serio-comic sensibility of his previous films on the new one, confining his three lost brothers not only within his limited world, but also within a limited space, a train compartment." Levy also said "after reaching a nadir with his last feature, the $50 million folly The Life Aquatic of Steve Zisou [sic], which was an artistic and commercial flop, Anderson could only go upward." Dana Stevens of Slate magazine wrote, "Maybe Anderson needs to shoot someone else's screenplay, to get outside his own head for a while and into another's sensibility. It's telling that his funniest and liveliest recent work was a commercial for American Express." Kyle Smith of the New York Post gave the film 1 1⁄2 stars out of 4 and said "At a stage in Anderson’s career when he should be moving on, he is instead circling back."
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- Chris Cabin. "The Darjeeling Limited Movie Review, DVD Release - Filmcritic.com". Filmcritic.com. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- Lisa Schwarzbaum (2007-09-26). "The Darjeeling Limited". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
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- Peter Rainer (2007-09-28). "'Darjeeling' of 'limited' appeal". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- David Edelstein. "The Darjeeling Limited". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- Nick Schager (2007-09-20). "The Darjeeling Limited". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
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- Dana Stevens (2007-09-27). "Twee Time". Slate. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
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