MOVIE REVIEW – Before the Rains
Directed by Santosh Sivan
Merchant Ivory Products, 2007
98 mins. Rated PG-13
The movie “Before the Rains” should be used as an example to illustrate the main points of Frederick Engels’ work “Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.” Set in 1930s India during the uprising of Indian nationalists, it clearly shows the effects of capital on love and human relationships. The bottom line is that people who love money, particularly capital, cannot love people.
The main character is an Indian assistant of a British spice trader. The Indian assistant seeks to protect his master, for which he receives meager wages and benefits. He lives in slave-like quarters on a plantation while his master dines on fine cuisine and wine in the main plantation house.
One of the most poignant moments in the film came when the British master asked his Indian collaborator if the workers in the village were calm. The complacency of the workers is of utmost importance to the capitalist.
The British master had embarked on a plan to build a road up a mountain in order to harvest the valuable spices of India. It was clear he needed the full support of the native Indian tribes to make this happen. Along the way, he engaged in an affair with a beautiful Indian servant. He glibly destroys her life when she appears to be an obstacle to capital accumulation and enlists the assistance of the Indian collaborator to eliminate her.
The movie clearly illustrates that under capitalism, and particularly imperialism, love takes a distant second place to profits and when love threatens capital accumulation, love becomes expedient.
Buried in the wonderful imagery of the film, which depicts the amazing Indian countryside, was the fact that labor improved the infrastructure of the community. When the imperialists were expelled, the road endured and the people benefited from their labor. The message seems to be that although the people suffer tremendously during capitalist expansion, they gain the tools and resources to overtake their oppressors.