Midnight’s Children, Avatar, Dreamgirls: films on TV today

The birth of modern India, James Cameron's megabucks blockbuster, and the lightly disguised story of the Supremes: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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ANDREW COLLINS:  FILM OF THE DAY 

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PREMIERE

Midnight’s Children ★★★
8.15-10.30pm BBC2 

Fans of Salman Rushdie’s 1981 high-concept allegorical Booker Prize winner have waited many long years for the movie adaptation. Presumably, its magic realism and ambitious historical canvas were barriers. Even this moderately budgeted British-Canadian production had to be filmed in Sri Lanka to avoid potential protest by either Muslim or Hindu fundamentalists. The result, directed by Deepa Mehta (Oscar-nominated for Water), is a perfectly serviceable and handsome-looking potted history of independent India, by way of its central, telepathic protagonist Saleem (Satya Bhabha), who is exactly the same age as the country. The story moves around a great deal and covers all the key events – Partition; Bangladeshi independence; the Emergency (1975-77) – and it wouldn’t be too rude, I hope, to compare it to Forrest Gump. Apparently greatly streamlined from the novel – by Mehta and Rushdie himself, who also narrates as the older Saleem – this is a decent enough account of the birth of a nation, as long as you believe in magic.

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Snow White and the Huntsman ★★★
 
8.00-10.30pm C4 

Kristen Stewart is a sullen Snow White (surprise, surprise) so it’s left to Charlize Theron’s evil queen to liven up this gloomily beautiful fairy tale.    


Van Helsing ★★★

10.30pm-1.05am C4 

Hugh Jackman heads down Transylvania way to help gypsy girl Kate Beckinsale in her battle against Count Dracula, but discovers he has more than one foe to deal with.    


Avatar ★★★

5.45-9.00pm Film Four 

Breaking pretty much every box-office record set by his own Titanic, James Cameron’s sci-fi fantasy is film-making on the most epic scale, especially if you like the colour blue.     


Dreamgirls ★★★

7.45-10.25pm 5★ 

Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar-winning performance is a highlight of this thinly disguised story of the rise to fame of Motown supergroup the Supremes.    


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