WADJDA is the story of a young Saudi girl whose burning desire for a bicycle leads her into bold defiance of her society's restrictive codes of gender and religion. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighbourhood boy she shouldnât be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. But Wadjdaâs mother wonât allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girlâs virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself. Although her cunning plans are continuously thwarted, she is determined to continue fighting for her dreams...
This is what cinema is all about - . humane, enjoyable and full of depth.
Wonderful performances. A gem of world cinema that demands to be seen to better understand Saudi culture (first Saudi feature film). Made by a Saudi woman. Made me think about Samira Makhmalbaf, Tahmineh Milani etc
Truly excellent picture quality on this Bluray.
Excellent extras - Women without Shadows feature is a real bonus. Historical perspective on the position of women in Saudi society.
made by a female saudi filmmaker this tells the story of a young girl who wants a bicycle much to the dismay of everyone that knows her. she is a wonderful young actress whose expressions tell everything. she also has a rebellious streak in that shs always has to wear converse boots which gets her into trouble. customs ofthe arabian women are also portrayed really well.
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.
"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). In fact, the movie screams "suffocation" and "suppression" from start to finish, just watch the multiple scenes at Wadjda's all-girls school (boys and girls are taught separately in Saudi), and even at home (where her mom reminds Wadjda to keep her voice down so as not to be heard outside by men since "a woman's voice is her nakedness"). Wadjda's mom is exasperated that her daughter wants to get a bike, and tries everything to talk her out of it, including cautioning Wadjda that "you won't be able to have kids if you ride a bike"... And maybe it's just me, but I find it unsettling to see women walk around in full "abaya", where at most only the eyes are visible, as if these women are the cause of all evil but men are free to do as they please. That said, this movie does provide a unique glimpse into what day-to-day live is really like in a place like Riyadh, and yet another reason to make this a must-see movie. The performances are generally top-notch, none more so than Waad Mohammed as the free-spirited young girl, but certainly Reem Abdullah as her mother is worth mentioning. Last but not least, the music for this movie, scored by Max Richter, is just beautiful (the soundtrack is available here on Amazon).
I had seen the trailer for this movie a number of times and couldn't wait to see this. The movie finally opened a few weekends ago at my local art-house theatre here in Cincinnati and I went to see it right away. I am happy to say that the screening where I saw this at was PACKED, which hopefully indicates a strong and lasting interest/demand for this movie. I see a LOT of movies and this movie is one of the best I've seen this year, period. If you are in the mood for a quality foreign movie that will open your horizons and along the way teach a few things about humanity, you cannot go wrong with this. "Wadjda" is HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!