The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
May 4, 2020 12:23 PM - Subscribe

"The Darjeeling Limited" is an emotional comedy about three brothers re-forging family bonds.The eldest, hopes to reconnect with his two younger siblings by taking them on a train trip across the vibrant and sensual landscape of India.

Estranged brothers Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) reunite for a train trip across India. The siblings have not spoken in over a year, ever since their father passed away. Francis is recovering from a motorcycle accident, Peter cannot cope with his wife's pregnancy, and Jack cannot get over his ex-lover. The brothers fall into old patterns of behavior as Francis reveals the real reason for the reunion: to visit their mother in a Himalayan convent.

Nandana Bose: Wes Anderson’s latest offering, The Darjeeling Limited (2007) represents a significant contribution towards de-mystifying the Orient and critiquing Orientalism through farce, self-reflexivity and comic, intertextual resonances. Co-written by Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, The Darjeeling Limited is a finely-tuned critique of American materialism, emotional vacuity, and lack of spiritualism. It can also be read as a tribute to Satyajit Ray’s films, which, according to Anderson, “were part of what inspired [him] to try to make movies in the first place.

debbie lynn elias: Where Anderson excels though is visually. With great attention to detail, he paints a meticulous portrait of India, all contained within the train itself. Actually taking a 10 car train, disassembling and reassembling each car customized for the shoot, Anderson, together with production designer Mark Friedberg, spared nothing with production design. India’s caste system is visualized within the cars of the train and life is captured in intimate one-on-one settings. Thanks to Art Director Adam Stockhausen and Graphic Artist Mark Pollard, the train itself is vibrant and colorful, showcasing the beauty of handmade Indian artistry blending Rajasthan-styling with Art Deco influences.

Anderson directorial hallmarks are ever present with montage and side-to-side pans and heavy use of over-the-shoulder shots to establish the intimacy of conversation. Thanks to brainstorming and the inventively creative cinematographer Robert Yeoman, ceiling dolly tracks were installed inthe train in order to run cameras without interfering with action in the aisles. Lighting was built into the train decor itself. Also, the exterior of train was outfitted with cameras and rigging that had to be compact enough to stay within 3 feet of the train exterior on either side due to the treacherous mountain passes traveled. Wanting to shoot as organically as possible, exteriors were shot with a randomness in open marketplaces amid casual citizens. Saturating the story with the culture and beauty of India, Anderson even turned to music from Satyajit as a backdrop to the picturesque acumen of the film.

Visually pleasing and interesting from the perspective of seeing a mini-travelogue of India, THE DARJEELING LIMITED is ride worth taking. However, if you are looking for substance over style, this is one trip you shouldn’t take.

Josh Larsen: Three American brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) cross India by train in this trippy road trip from writer-director Wes Anderson. They’re seeking some vague sort of enlightenment, but past family history – in the present form of each other – keeps getting in the way. Anderson delivers both an amusing spoof and an authentic vindication of such narcissistic quests. It’s not giving too much away to say that the brothers do eventually have their moment of shared epiphany, though I won’t divulge the unexpected way it arrives. Anderson’s movies tend to work in a similar manner. We think we’re watching quirky little comedies about outlandish characters when – boom! – we experience a genuine epiphany of our own. Suddenly, a silly film has delivered an emotional wallop. Brody makes an especially welcome addition to the usual suspects in the cast. The Oscar winner has a comedian’s gangly limbs and a tragedian’s melancholy face. For the tragicomedies of Wes Anderson, that’s a perfect combination.

posted by Carillon (8 comments total)
This was the one that finally soured me on Wes Anderson for good. Not only did it put a damper on any enthusiasm I might have had for all of his subsequent releases, but it also deprecated my enjoyment of all of his previous films—even the ones I had once held to be perfect. A true Wizard of Oz curtain reveal of a movie.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:54 PM on May 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

Really? What in particular felt like the curtain reveal to you? Too self-contained? Too twee?
posted by Carillon at 3:42 PM on May 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

You can't mention this movie without highlighting Irrfan Khan as the father of the young boy who dies in the river. He died last week.

This has always been one of my favorites. I think it does a really excellent job undercutting white Westerners who "find themselves" through other people and cultures while treating everyone with a lot of humanity.

I also love that the tiger gets its very own train car.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:47 PM on May 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Too self-contained? Too twee?

It was both of those things, but also mean of spirit and terribly glib.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:05 PM on May 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

The Darjeeling Limited is streaming in the US via DirecTV and HBO.
posted by Etrigan at 6:34 AM on May 5, 2020

There was set of luggage which stole the show, otherwise there was little merit in this film.
posted by Oyéah at 7:15 PM on May 16, 2020

I would like to hear more about why people are so against this film but love other Wes Anderson ones. I mean, I think this fits right in with many of the others -- better than many others, like The Grand Budapest Hotel, in my opinion -- but I hear it constantly disparaged as one of Anderson's worst.

So yeah... tell me more. Because I really liked it.
posted by knownassociate at 1:32 PM on May 17, 2020

I was really turned off by the long slow-mo + Kinks tracking shot of our quirky heroes at the boy’s funeral. You’d think there could be a moment where Wes Anderson could stop his tics and realize “this is not the time” — but no, he can’t stop his adolescent doodling at all. The result was a dead boy and a grieving family as props, part of the hipster magical misery tour for our heroes. In the end it felt like India itself was Wes Anderson’s plaything and although his eye is loving and sharp, it’s his eye that takes over. Altogether not cool.
posted by argybarg at 9:12 AM on July 9

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