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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. It is assumed that no one who is diligently avoiding spoilers will be visiting this page in the first place.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Darjeeling Limited can be found here.
The Darjeeling Limited is based on a screenplay by director Wes Anderson, principal actor Jason Schwartzman, and film-maker Roman Coppola. Anderson has revealed that The River (1951) by French film director Jean Renoir, the films of Indian director Satyajit Ray, and documentaries on India by French film director Louis Malle were his inspirations for this movie.
One year after the death of their father, afterwhich their mother moved to India to join an ashram, the three Whitman brothers -- Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody), and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) -- agree to take a trip together on the Darjeeling Limited, at Francis' request, in order to go on a spiritual journey and get back some of the closeness they shared as brothers. Instead of closeness, however, what comes to the surface is their own personal problems and all the resentment and mistrust they feel toward each other, particularly when Francis announces that the train ride is taking them to see their mother, now known as Sister Patricia (Anjelica Huston).
There is no such train as the Darjeeling Limited in India. However, there is a train named Darjeeling Mail that operates between Sealdah and New Jalpaiguri. Indian Railways also operates the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. The train posing as the Darjeeling Limited was decorated for the film from ten rail-cars and a locomotive purchased from the Northwestern Railways company and decorated by production designer Mark Friedberg, using as inspiration the 20th Century Limited, a train which ran between Chicago and New York from 1902 to 1967.
Motorcycle accident. Francis describes how he skidded off the road during a rainstorm and catapulted 50 feet into the air. On the way down, his face hit the side of a hill, and he actually stopped breathing until he was discovered by two joggers who did everything 'exactly right' and saved him. This incident, in fact, was what inspired Francis to arrange for the trip because, when he woke up, he could only think 'I wish Peter and Jack were here.' Later, as the three brothers start to reconnect with each other, Francis admits that he crashed his motorcycle on purpose.
The red dot is called a bindi, translated from the Sanskrit as 'a drop' or 'dot'. It is traditionally placed in the center of the forehead between the eyes over the Tantric chakra 'ajna', also known as 'the third eye', which is the exit point for kundalini energy. The bindi serves to retain this energy.
Known in India as mousabi, sweet lime is a refreshing drink made of fresh lime juice, syrup, soda water, and salt.
Something about that they should have two set of keys for each. The other answers "That's quite easy." The scene then returns to the brothers. As their voices get louder, one lady is telling the other that her memory is bad, and the other lady responds that the first lady is the one who doesn't hear well, that she uses a hearing apparatus, and then something about how 'naturally that's what i said'. It's a bit hard to piece together. In the part where they whisper to each other when the brothers take out all their medications, they are saying, "Did you see what they have on the table?"
Jack is a writer. It's never mentioned what Peter does. As for Francis, look at the scene when Francis first speaks with Brendon in the train corridor. Both Brendon's polo and cap read Francis Whitman Industries, the deduction being that Francis owns some sort business that allows him the financial freedom to foot the bill for the brothers' trip, purchase $6000 belts, $3000 loafers, and have a personal assistant come along on the Darjeeling as well.
The luxury fashion and leather goods company called Louis Vuitton. Headquartered in Paris, France and known especially for bags and trunks, LV is one of the oldest fashion houses in the world, having started in 1854. All that great luggage is thought to have been symbolic of "baggage" in the film, such that the brothers lug all this baggage around in India during the entire time on this spiritual journey.
JLW are the initials of the brothers' father, James 'Jimmy' Whitman.
Francis wants the three of them to (1) become brothers like we used to be, find ourselves, and bond with each other; (2) make this a spiritual journey where we each seek the unknown and learn about it; (3) be completely open and say 'yes' to everything, even if it's shocking and painful; (4) not splinter into factions and not include somebody who has advice and may know better; and (5) should Jack want to speak to his girlfriend or check her messages, anytime day or night, he must check with Francis and Peter first. When they reach the ashram, Patricia adds to the list: (6) We'll get an early start tomorrow morning and try to enjoy each others' company here in this beautiful place, (7) we'll stop feeling sorry for ourselves (it's not very attractive), and (8) we'll make our plans for the future. It's easy to see where Francis gets it from.
Bill Murray's cameo appears at the very start of the movie, even before the credits. He and Peter are running to catch the Darjeeling Ltd, which is pulling out of the station. Peter makes it. Murray's businessman character does not. He reappears near the end of the movie as the brothers and their mother are communicating without words, the Rolling Stones sing, 'Play With Fire', and the camera pans from one train compartment to the next. The businessman, with a bindi on his forehead, can be seen sitting in one of the cars.
After Jack tries unsuccessfully to phone his girlfriend, Peter asks whether she might be gaslighting him. The term 'gaslighting' derives from the 1944 film Gaslight. It refers to a form of mental manipulation in which false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory and question their sanity.
The chief steward (Waris Ahluwalia) confiscated the cobra from Peter and tells them that it is dead. However, Peter suggests that he maybe let the snake go in the desert. Near the end of the movie, as the train's compartments are shown, the steward is shown holding the snake. He then places it in a terrarium he has set up in his cabin.
As the brothers and their mother are communicating without words, the camera pans through a series of train compartments. In each compartment sits a person from the thoughts of the brothers and/or their mother. In the first compartment, three children from the ashram lie across a bed, praying. This is followed by Rita "Sweet Lime' (Amara Karan) smoking a cigarette and preparing for bed, the steward putting Peter's snake in a terrarium, the two children saved from drowning, Peter's pregnant wife Alice (Camilla Rutherford) lying on her bed, a white-haired man meditating, Francis' assistant Brendan (Wallace Wolodarsky) flying home in an airplane, Jack's girlfriend (Natalie Portman) sitting on a bed, her head wrapped in a towel and drinking a Bloody Mary, the businessman drinking sweet lime on the Darjeeling Ltd, and the snarling Bengal tiger lurking in the trees.
After visiting with their mother and agreeing to her agreements, the brothers awaken the next morning to find that she has left the ashram without saying where she is going. As they begin to eat breakfast, Francis suddenly pulls the remaining peacock feather from his bag, indicating that this would be the perfect time to try the peacock feather ritual again, so the three of them climb to the top of a hill where they each engage in a personal ritual before coming together to blow on the feather. Jack then buries it under five rocks, and the brothers smile at each other. They take an autorickshaw to the Zawar train station. On the way, Jack reads to them the ending of his new story in which he chooses not to go to Italy. They arrive at the train station just as their train starts pulling away. They grab their suitcases and run for it, with three porters following behind, carrying the rest of their baggage. Realizing that they're going to miss the train if they don't disencumber themselves, they begin dropping the bags as they jump on the train, leaving the porters and all of their dad's Louis Vuittons behind. In the final scene, they sit comfortably in their train compartment, each with a glass of sweet lime. Francis pulls out Peter and Jack's passports. 'Why don't you hang on to mine?' says Peter. 'It's safer if you keep'em,' Jack adds. Francis returns the passports to his pocket, and they all go out together to get a drink and smoke a cigarette.
The script can be downloaded from TDL Scripts.
Hotel Chevalier (2007) is a 13-minute short that Anderson made prior to filming The Darjeeling Limited. It functions as a prologue to Darjeeling, was shown in theaters along with Darjeeling, and can be found on the DVD. In it, Jack's ex-girlfriend (also played by Natalie Portman) turns up unexpectedly at his hotel room in Paris, and they spend the night together.
Not necessary but, if it's available, it's advisable, because it fills in some of the information missing from Darjeeling, such as whose phonemail Jack keeps checking and how the story that Jack writes at the end of Darjeeling is the actual story of what occurred between him and his girlfriend.
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