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A young girl zealously wants to go to school and learn to read and write. Almost everywhere she is met with hostility or indifference. The only young boy who takes her to his school is thrown out by the teacher, because helping her prevented him from coming in time. - It must not go unnoticed that the schoolgirls and the female teacher are likewise hostile toward this girl. None of them want her in the classroom. On her way home she and other girls are taken as prisoners by boys playing talibans. They tear her school book to pieces (or rather what was left of it after the schoolgirls had done the same thing.) The "taliban boys" threaten to stone their girl prisoners (although in this movie there is little real physical violence against girls). The girl's attempts end in complete failure. (Whatever moods of the scenes throughout the entire movie, the acting by the central girl is really impressive.) Written by
Max Scharnberg, Stockholm, Sweden
Unusual use of kid actors to criticize the adult Taliban
This is an unusual film, but not a film that can be considered a major work of cinema. The Iranian film is shot on Afghan locations very close to the spot where the fundamentalist Muslim Taliban destroyed the centuries-old rock hewn gigantic statue of Buddha. Had it existed today, it could have been a modern wonder of the world. Hence the title--"Buddha collapsed from shame". The film location probably has not a single Buddhist--at least officially. It is habited by gentle, peace loving Muslims terrorized by fundamentalist Muslims. Women are forced to wear burkhas--to cover their hair. If the women use lipstick, they are brutally punished, even stoned to death, after being given water to drink before they die! Girls are not allowed to attend school, while boys are. The film begins with the documentary footage of the destruction of the Buddha statue.
The film is an interesting film for several reasons. It is directed by a 19-year-old girl--daughter of a famous Iranian director. Like Sofia Coppola, her family must have encouraged her at every step.
The movie is equally interesting because a Muslim director is criticizing the Taliban.
The most valuable part of the film is that the criticism is indirect as perceived from a child's perspective. The entire story is told by a lovely, persistent, young girl child who yearns to learn to read and attend school, and makes intelligent use of her mother's lipstick and four eggs taken from her home to attain her aim in life. Her mother is away, working. (I guess here shades of director Hana Makhmalbaf's personal aspirations are mirrored, though she led a much better life than the Afghan girl.) The film is a wonderful example of use of kids in world cinema. What credible performances!
Yet there are problems with the film. Many sequences seem to remind you of "Lord of the Flies". There is a sequence where the girl child ties a baby with a rope and leaves for school--but this scene is never followed up. There is another scene where the girl rings the school bell, and no one in the school seems to notice her action. Humour takes its toll on credibility. Yet Hana needs to be commended for her brave and intelligent work.
The film opened the 12th International Film Festival Of Kerala, in India, today
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