The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

The Darjeeling Limited (Hindi: द दार्जिलिंग लिमिटेड) is a 2007 comedy-drama film directed by Wes Anderson, and starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman. It was written by Anderson, Schwartzman, and Roman Coppola. The film also features Waris Ahluwalia, Amara Karan, Barbet Schroeder, and Anjelica Huston, with Natalie Portman, Camilla Rutherford, Irrfan Khan and Bill Murray in cameo roles.


A North American businessman in India (Bill Murray) runs after but fails to catch his train as it pulls out of a station in India. He is beaten to it by a younger man, Peter Whitman (Adrien Brody), who is carrying heavy luggage. Peter reunites with his brothers Francis (Owen Wilson) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) on the luxury train called “The Darjeeling Limited”, which is traveling across India. The brothers have not seen each other since their father’s funeral a year earlier in New York.

Francis, the oldest of the three brothers, has planned their journey in advance. The journey is supposed to culminate in a reunion with their mother (Anjelica Huston), who is running a convent in the foothills of the Himalayas. Francis conceals the real reason for the trip, telling his brothers that they are making the journey for spiritual self-discovery. Francis’ brothers are not convinced of this, and get annoyed with Francis’ controlling behaviour such as choosing from the menu for them, which turns out to be a trait inherited from their mother. With his assistant Brendan’s help, Francis draws up a detailed itinerary for the trip. He also takes his brothers’ passports to prevent them from getting off the train too early. Francis, who was badly injured in a motorcycle accident, wears bandages on his head throughout the film. The youngest Whitman, Jack, has written a short story which is strikingly similar to his own life. However, he denies those similarities. Jack obsessively listens to the messages on his ex-girlfriend’s answering machine at every stop the train makes. Moreover, he has a fling with the train’s beautiful stewardess Rita (Amara Karan), whom Francis nicknames “Sweet Lime” for the drinks she repeatedly offers.

Peter, the middle brother, justifies his keeping many of his late father’s possessions, including his spectacles, which he wears even though they are not the right prescription, by claiming that he was their father’s favorite. His wife, Alice (Camilla Rutherford), is expecting a baby, but Peter fears that their relationship may end in divorce.

At first, the three brothers get high on a cocktail of locally made drugs and pharmaceutical products. In their trips through the Indian provinces, they visit temples and markets. At one market, Francis has one of his $3000 loafers stolen by a shoe-shine boy, and Peter buys a cobra, which later escapes from its transport container. This escape results in the brothers being confined to their cabins. Francis and Peter get into a fight over Peter being the “favorite” and Jack uses the pepper spray he bought in the village to mace his brothers until they stop fighting. This is the last straw for the train’s Chief Steward (Waris Ahluwalia), who is also Rita’s boyfriend, and whom the three brothers have repeatedly annoyed. He throws the three of them off the train with all their luggage, leaving them in the desert. The three brothers become close again and even perform one of Francis’ spiritual rituals. On their way back to civilization, they see three young boys get into trouble while attempting to pull a raft across a fast-flowing river. Jack and Francis rescue two of the boys, but Peter fails to save the third. This affects Peter deeply. In the boys’ village, the three brothers are befriended by the villagers and attend the boy’s funeral.

(In a flashback,) the three brothers and Alice are on the way to their father’s funeral. They stop on the way to pick up their father’s Porsche from the repair shop and take it with them, but the car isn’t ready yet so the brothers leave.

(Back in the present,) the Whitmans get on a bus, which takes them from the village to the airport. The brothers stop for a bathroom break, during which Francis removes his bandages to shave, which reveals a number of large, bright scars on his face, but his brothers offer marginal reserved comfort. However, just as they are getting on the plane, they change their minds and decide to go and visit their mother, even though she has sent them a message telling them that their visit is not convenient. The three brothers travel to their mother’s convent. The reunion is very emotional (it is learned that Francis’s accident was, in fact, a suicide attempt) and the family is reunited for a time. The next morning, the three brothers find that the mother has again left her family and her children.

On the way back the three brothers run for a just-departed train, and jettison all their baggage on the railway line as they and some porters run after the train. Jack reads his new short story, which tells the story of his meeting with his ex-girlfriend in the Hotel Chevalier, and gives in, accepting that it is representative of his own life.

Francis wants to give the passports back to his brothers, but they decide that they are safer with him. The Chief Steward (who has kept Peter’s snake as a pet), the businessman from the beginning, and Jack’s ex-girlfriend (Natalie Portman) look out contemplatively.

Image & Source


Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this film: