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Wadjda [Blu-ray] [2013]

4.5 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Reem Abdullah, Waad Mohammed, Abdullrahman Al Gohani
  • Directors: Haifaa Al-Mansour
  • Format: PAL, Blu-ray
  • Language: Arabic
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Soda Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Feb. 2014
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00C2SF8LE
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,878 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with.

Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale that she wants desperately so she can race her friend, Abdullah. But Wadjda’s mother won’t allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself. At first, Wadjda’s mother is too preoccupied with convincing her husband not to take a second wife to realize what’s going on. And soon enough Wadjda’s plans are thwarted when she is caught running various schemes at school.

Just as she is losing hope of raising enough money, she hears of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. She devotes herself to the memorization and recitation of Koranic verses, and her teachers begin to see Wadjda as a model pious girl. The competition isn‘t going to be easy, especially for a troublemaker like Wadjda, but she refuses to give in. She is determined to continue fighting for her dreams...

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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.
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Format: 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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Format: Blu-ray
"Wadjda" (2012 release from Saudi Arabia; 98 min.) brings the story of Wadjda, a young girl (I'm guessing 10 or 11 yr. old), an only child living with her mom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Her dad is often absent due to work, and in addition we later learn he is considering taking a second wife who could bear him a son. Wadjda is a free spirit, wearing western style shoes and clothes and listening to 'evil music' (that would be Grouplove) on the radio. She is friends with a young boy who has a bike and it is her dream to get her own bike, so that she can race him and beat him. Alas, she cannot afford to buy a bike herself as is costs 800 Riyals. But as luck would have it, her school is holding a Koran competition where the winner will get 1,000 Riyals. To tell you more of the plot would surely ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Several comments: first of all, the fact that this movie was made at all is nothing short of a small miracle (the first movie shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, a country where there are no movie theatres), and that it was directed by a woman (another first), Haifaa al-Mansour, is even more astonishing. Writer-director al-Mansour brings us a compassionate story of freedom (or the lack thereof) and what it means to grow up as a woman in Saudi Arabia. While of course a good part of the story focuses on the young girl, equally important (and biting) is what happens to her mother, who must rely on a driver to get her to her job (women aren't allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia) and who must try and charm/convince her husband not to seek a second wife (which is allowed under Saudi law).
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