Letting go of Baggage: The Darjeeling Limited

In The Darjeeling Limited, easily one of my favorite Anderson films, objects are everything. The brothers’ luggage stands for the past (deaths, regrets, loves) that they have not been able to accept. In a delicious scene of masculine competition, their father’s razor precipitates an impassioned fight as to which brother was the favorite. Objects convey the past to the present like a Greek chorus (the Porsche in the garage flashback); move the narrative forward (the fight over the razor; tea time through the train), and unite the brothers after a fight (the belt). It is not merely object fetishization (though the stylized mise-en-scenes are alluring and guiltiliy boho-bourgoeois), but a narrative device. The objects also function as a marker of all their collective neuroses: detailed itineraries, painkillers, snakes, women’s perfume bottles, and so on. These objects are characters in their own right, rich with provenance, history, and meaning. The final scene, when all the luggage is literally left behind, is more poignant than one can imagine.