Wadjda

A while back Global Engagement set up a viewing of the Saudi Arabian film Wadjda at the grey owl. The story follows Wadjda, a young girl going to school in Saudia Arabia, as she faces some of the dilemmas that women there have to deal with. The primary conflict comes from Wadjda’s desire to buy a bike but not having the funds to do so. She is a bit of a rebel so she tries selling crafts and keeping secrets to raise the money, but this makes her butt heads with the headmistress of the school (who serves as the primary antagonist). The major subplot is that Wadjda’s father is looking to get another wife despite the protests of Wadjda’s mother. The heart of the story is one of defiance and striving to achieve your goals no matter the opposition. The story concludes with Wadjda’s faith in the system being betrayed and the money she won for the bike being given away, as well as her father going through with the second marriage. However, the day is saved as Wadjda’s mother makes the first step towards independence (symbolized by trying a new hairstyle) and buying Wadjda the bike. The final scene is Wadjda using the bike to beat her friend (male) in a race and riding off. Overall its a nice story, but I did have my complaints. First, everything is very on the nose. There is not much room for interpreting the story or seeing multiple sides: this is just the story of Wadjda told just in the way the director wanted it. Now, this wouldn’t be bad if the conclusion drawn was something that was well though out. Now, looking at the reviews for the movie I could be in the minority here, but to me the end result was a bit simplistic. The bike represented freedom for Wadjda (and women) and the second she got it everything was alright: she could immediately race along side and beat her friend (the ruling men). The film seemed to be implying that with this one simple solution everything would be made right, which I thought ignored a lot of the intricacies and problems that are affecting the country. In any case, this was a big stepping stone for Saudi Arabian film and therefore for the country as a whole, so maybe I shouldn’t be so critical that it didn’t take any large leaps right off the bat.

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