14 April 2006 - Friday

Edward Said and 'Vanity Fair'

At the end of the film Vanity Fair -- an entertaining though not especially authentic adaptation of Thackeray's novel -- I'm pretty sure I spotted the following notice in the middle of the credits:

Salaams to Edward W. Said for continuing to inspire.

I found that especially strange given the film's treatment of India. While I'm no expert on the subject, I wouldn't say the film exactly avoided the Orientalist approach. Indians in the film are either exotic entertainers or inscrutable domestics, and they literally dance for the British every time they get the chance. Joseph Sedley's triumphant return to India on the back of an elephant is vaguely reminiscent of Palm Sunday, with crowds of whirling locals cheering him on. The natives seem a very friendly lot, of course, but they're still the natives.

Perhaps I am missing something.

Update: In comments at Cliopatria, Manan Ahmed answers:

Edward Said was a colleague of Mahmood Mamdani, Mira Nair [the director]'s husband, at Columbia. And I also think they were neighbors.

I took the dedication to be for a friend remembered.

| Posted by Wilson at 15:17 Central | TrackBack
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk