‘Australia’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ take a fresh look at Oz and India

Want to start a new country? Or put a fresh spin on an existing one? Well, after you've drafted a constitution and written the national anthem, there's something else you may want to do: make a movie.

In the century or so since film was invented, movie making and nation building often have been parallel projects. Many countries have used film to boost morale, mobilize the masses or simply take stock of where the nation stands at a given point in time, such as the tart social comedies of Britain's Ealing Studios, which helped war-wearied Brits keep stiff upper lips, and the grotesque Wagnerian pageantry of Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda. And for an aspiring global power, what better way to announce your First World ambitions (other than building nuclear reactors) than to film a national epic?

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