Film Review: Lion – The Power of Technology

Heart breaking, soul-searching and enthralling are just three ways I would describe the film Lion. Based on the true story, The Story of a Lost Boy by Saroo Brierley, this film’s adaptation of a hard-hitting narrative is what makes it a success. Directed by Garth Davis and showcasing the talented actors Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, it has been described by The Guardian, as an ‘incredible postmodern odyssey’.

Released in October 2016, Lion took $4.15 million during its first weekend, making its opening the fifth highest grossing for an Australian film according to distributor Transmission Films. It has gone on to receive nominations for six Oscars and four Golden Globes, including Best Drama Motion Picture, and has been praised all over social media with tweets from Kim Kardashian, among other celebrities:

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 14.56.43
Source: https://twitter.com/KimKardashian

The film re-enacts the incredible story of Saroo’s life. At the start, he is a five year old Indian boy (played by Sunny Pawar, who is originally from a Mumbai slum), living with his mother and brother in a rural Indian village. Saroo joins his brother at work but one night he falls asleep on a train and becomes separated from him. Scared and alone, Saroo finds himself in Kolkata, surrounded by local people who only speak Bengali, a language very different to his native Hindi. After living on the streets of Kolkata and avoiding some sticky situations, Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple. In his new home of Tasmania, he gains an education and appears to look forward to a respectable future, full of prospects. However, Saroo is prone to flashbacks of his previous life, so decides to make it his mission to investigate his past with the help of modern technology. Through the use of Google Earth, he manages to track down his old home and become reunited with his mother.

The film succeeds in sticking closely to Saroo’s original story, and the director’s use of powerful cinematic techniques and mise-en-scènes makes the film feel authentic. However, it is not until the genuine footage provided by Saroo at the end of the film that the full reality of the situation hits home. Seeing Saroo’s adoptive mother meeting his real mother for the first time really struck a chord.

This prompted me to reflect on some deeper issues – if Saroo had not been adopted into the Western World, would he ever have found his mother? How has the different experience of Saroo’s two ‘mothers’ been influenced by the places in which they live? Why has the world allowed the lack of technology available in poorer countries to become yet another factor, which punishes those in poverty?

It seems that the mix of love, determination and the power of technology brought Saroo and his mother together again. For the average Westerner, who normally uses Google Earth to pinpoint his or her house, it seems incredible that such a platform could have such a substantial effect on someone’s life.

Google Earth by Jonica Schmutz, on Flickr
Google Earth– the platform that Saroo used to find his mother. “Google Earth” (CC BY 2.0) by Jonica Schmutz

Although it has been claimed that India is the fastest growing tech hub in the world, many of its people are not even able to access services like Google Earth. In India, 900 million people do not have access to the internet due to issues such as affordability and awareness. In contrast to the UK, where one in four people have broadband connection.

In this country, technology is often criticised for making our nation lazy, yet its positive elements are overlooked, such as the billions it brings into our economy and the opportunities it gives us to invent. This film shows us that we really need to appreciate how fortunate we are in the UK to have access to such creative technology.

Lion’s portrayal of Google Earth shows that technology can make the unthinkable happen. It has and will impact positively on people’s lives, yet it is up to us to allow everyone the freedom and access to use it.

 

All images free to use under Creative Commons legislation. 

Cover image source: https://goo.gl/images/2317y6 

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