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21 Reviews
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing and uplifting insight into Islam
This is a slightly edited version of my review of the film written for English-speaking friends after I saw it in the cinema in July 2013:

"Oh joy! 5/5 ... This is an incredible film and if, after reading this you want to, you really should try to see it. Yes, yes, I know it's in Arabic with subtitles, but ...

"It's a Saudi/German collaboration,...
Published 9 months ago by R

versus
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Talk about how a country will develop, always assuming that the american "free trade free raid" culture is the way forward.....
Reading a review here typically written by an insular person who obviously is immersed in the vile violence drug and sex drenched sick culture that is being exported all over this planet by the yanks, how patronising to say; "it will be interesting to see how their (the Ryad) culture will "develop" B******T when their culture is older and certainly is superior...
Published 4 months ago by Miles Dexter


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing and uplifting insight into Islam, 25 Sep 2013
This review is from: Wadjda [Blu-ray] [2013] (Blu-ray)
This is a slightly edited version of my review of the film written for English-speaking friends after I saw it in the cinema in July 2013:

"Oh joy! 5/5 ... This is an incredible film and if, after reading this you want to, you really should try to see it. Yes, yes, I know it's in Arabic with subtitles, but ...

"It's a Saudi/German collaboration, directed by a Saudi woman, about the lives of Muslim women in a run-down, tribal and very conservative Riyadh suburb. The uplifting conclusion will be an inspiration to anyone except perhaps conservative[s of all faiths] ... who will - very wrongly in my view - be indignant at 'all this heresy'...

"So, while the fact that it has been made at all - and is a big critical success - is incredible, it's wonderful to report that this film does for contemporary suburban Saudi life what John Reith said the BBC should do: educate, inform, and entertain. It's a sensitive insight into Muslim women's lives and a window on the teachings of the Koran. It comes from the liberal part of Islam. And it is amusing, sad and dramatic, and beautifully filmed and acted.

"If I had to say which films it reminded me of most, I'd say an unexpected, bizarre and enthralling mélange of If... (Lindsay Anderson, 1968) and Breaking away (Peter Yates, 1979). Yes, it's about badly-behaved school misfits with a dislike of authority and a passion for cycling. I really just can't think why it was that I empathized with the film so strongly!

"There is something odd about the English subtitles in places. But, without seeing the film again, perhaps it was that some of the characters were ignorant of aspects of Arabic grammar and this was being translated deliberately into what we saw on the screen to help our understanding. Anyway, it in no way marred an otherwise excellent experience.

"Quite a few of those of us who'd seen the film [at the showing I went to] ended up afterwards in an eatery next door. I noted we were all staring into space - and then at each other! - with delight about what we'd just seen. And, when I went to Ilford town centre this morning and saw partially- and fully-veiled women coming towards me, I said to myself, 'I know more about you now than I did only 12 hours ago'. What a brilliant result?!

"One for the DVD collection (I trust it'll be on disc soon) in due course ..."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A first! And suitable for children too., 17 Feb 2014
This review is from: Wadjda [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
I had no idea that film making was illegal in Saudi Arabia and that there are no cinemas. I picked up these two gems from the half hour documentary which is on the Extras. I'd advise you to watch the making of the film and you will see the tremendous difficulties the film crew had to contend with just to film simple takes i.e. a girl walking down the street. Using a state school was expressly forbidden by the authorities.
The film is very well done. Very professional when you consider the circumstances. If you know nothing about the day to day lives of average Saudi Arabians then this is certainly a good window onto it. The girl is excellent in the role and really stands out - as does her little friend Abdullah. The Head Mistress is a right hypocrite and has the faces to match!
If you believe religion is similar to a viral infection then this film will only reinforce that view. The restrictions placed on the most menial human contacts or expressions of one's humanity are all too evident - especially for women. The film is suitable for children as - lets face it - even an ankle isn't seen in this society. I do hope they produce more of these films but I would doubt it. No doubt when the male authorities learn of it they will try and ban it. It may end up being the first and last of its kind.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving and interesting - good for children as well as adults, 8 Aug 2013
This review is from: Wadjda [Blu-ray] [2013] (Blu-ray)
Wadjda is the story of a Saudi Arabian girl who wants to have her own bike. It's the first feature length film to be directed in Saudi Arabia by a female, Waifaa Al-Mansour.

The film starts with a school scene, and ten year old Wadjda is struggling against the constraints of school and society. There is tension at home too. Wadjda's father is thinking of taking a second wife. He wants a son, which Wadjda's mother cannot bear him.

Against this background, Wadjda wants to own a bike so that she can enjoy the freedom of racing against her best friend, a boy named Abdullah. To this end, she embarks upon an entrepreneurial drive, selling homemade bracelets and mix tapes from the radio, and running errands. But before Wadjda can achieve her dream of riches, the innocence of her errands is tipped upside down as easily as her bag full of contraband goods. Such things are forbidden in school, in society, where even innocent errands lead to the edges of a skirmish with the religious police.

Thus thwarted, the only route left to Wadjda is that of winning the school's Qu'ran recitation and knowledge competition. 1000 riyals are up for grabs, but this is going to be a long haul, as evidenced by a hilarious scene involving a games console, a huge flat screen television, and Islam's own version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

There's a satisfying twist towards the end, and the ending itself is bittersweet, and a bit teary. Just as this is a film about society and the choices available to it, it is a film about a mother and a daughter and sacrifices and choices that individuals make. We don't know what will happen to Wadjda, just as we have no idea how society in Saudi will develop. All we see is individuals developing, and gaining the strength to reach out to the things they want, however small they are.

Although not described as a children's film, I watched this with my children and thought it was a good way of showing them how other societies work as well as being moving and interesting as an adult's film.

See longer review at [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Immensly Thought Provoking, 29 April 2014
By 
Chris Jackets (Hellingly, East Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Wadjda (Blu-ray)
To really appreciate this delightful film you need to watch the two documentaries in the 'Extras' before watching it. It is almost imposssible for people brought up in the Western World to appreciate just how badly women are suppressed in Saudi Arabia - and how brain-washed they are in being made to believe that it is all God's Will! That this film was able to be made at all in Saudi Arabia is almost unbelievable. Directed by a Saudi woman (often totally physically out of contact with the film crew except by walkie-talkie because men were in the area) with a German film crew - there are no cinemas in Saudi - the restrictions on filming were huge. However, incredibly, this film is not anti-Saudi, but a stunningly simple story of a girl who wants to buy a bicycle. This is a film to cherish for its humanity and the willingness of a young girl to do whatever it takes to achieve her ambition despite all the odds being against her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An endearing and charming contribution to world ciema...., 1 Mar 2014
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Jd Holloway "Jeremy Holloway" (Kingswear, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wadjda [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
I first saw this film when it first came out and then only because it was scheduled on my shift. But I was so glad I saw it. Culture is a difficult subject to describe / understand but this film gives a genuine and non-judgemental insight into life in Saudi Arabia. The fact that the film has such a talented and endearing cast is a bonus. The young girl, who is the focus of the film, is very natural in her role, the co-stars are also well up to their task of creating a scenario that is both realistic and problematic in a country that is not keen on any sort of female empowerment. This is definitely a "feel-good factor" film, you will come out smiling, guaranteed. There are political aspects to the making of this film that have been well publicised but the finished result is both charming and endearing. Excellent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 9 July 2014
This review is from: Wadjda (DVD)
Great little film, lovely performances, such an interesting subject. Recommend watching the "making of" as well as it makes the film all the more interesting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome and moving, 23 April 2014
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David - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wadjda [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
A truly moving insight into the hopes and aspirations of young Saudi women and the future possibilities they might one day enjoy. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wadjda, 12 April 2014
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This review is from: Wadjda [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
We used to live in Riyadh so the film had probably more of an impact on us. Were fascinated with the after story like the making of the film and the interviews with Saudi women.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and interesting, 8 April 2014
This review is from: Wadjda (DVD)
'Wadjda' offers a fresh insight into Islam, and breaks many barriers in its making. For this reason alone, it is worth seeing. Arguably a little slow, but by the final sequence your heart is lifted and you feel like change for the good is always possible in the world. Not astonishing as I'd hoped, but certainly a fantastic film that offers an antidote to the constantly watered down "issues" cinema pumped out by big studios. This feels real, and it is clear the film makers know what they are talking about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming & disturbing, quiet but strong, 6 April 2014
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This review is from: Wadjda [Blu-ray] [2013] (Blu-ray)
A story that really needs to be told about women's lives in Saudi Arabia, in so many ways. Whilst the story itself is very good, the setting of her mother's life and struggles mirrors and strengthens this. Let's only hope there are many more Wadjda's out there (plus many more boys like her friend who will respect her more, not less, for having dreams and working towards them), strong enough to stand up to the system in their own little ways. And that's without considering the way the film was actually made by a woman director (by walkie-talkie from inside a white van for the outdoor scenes), and has managed to get out onto the international film circuit.... well done!
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Wadjda [Blu-ray] [2013]
Wadjda [Blu-ray] [2013] by Haifaa Al-Mansour (Blu-ray - 2014)
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