Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame
- 1h 21min
In Afghanistan, a young girl wants to go to school and learn to read and write, but is met with hostility or indifference.In Afghanistan, a young girl wants to go to school and learn to read and write, but is met with hostility or indifference.In Afghanistan, a young girl wants to go to school and learn to read and write, but is met with hostility or indifference.
The little girl of the title is Baktay (Noruz), an actress no elder than about ten ploughing her way into a debut role with one might say the same level of freshness and raw desire that her character exhibits in her burning lust to raise funds for school equipment and then get to the damn place. Such an item compliments then-nineteen year old female director Hana Makhmalbaf's idea of seemingly wanting to tell a story with a dramatic edge, but this element infused within the actress additionally retains an eye on the documentary-driven roots of what it is she's doing. Drawing on inspiration, I'm sure, from other such films from the Middle-East looking at a female's role within this world such as 2003's Osama and 2006's Offside; Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame peers eerily into the dusty and hostile world of life under Muslim rule, exploring and dramatising without ever exploiting.
Bakatay's innocent but emotionally fuelled romp through the desert plains and dusty market places is a coming-of-age process of sorts; initially angered and annoyed at neighbouring boy Abbas' (Alijome) reading next door, she becomes more interested in the idea after advancing and asks him to read to her some more. In being caught out as to not being able to read after Abbas catches her purely reciting the pictures and what they're of in the book, Bakatay takes it upon herself to journey to a school so that she may learn. In doing so, the need to defy the male makes itself first apparent at this early stage; Abbas' harmless but churlish mocking of her that she cannot read kicks off Bakatay's reactionary drive to do what's unexpected of her. A heartbreaking sequence follows in the local market when she desperately tries to sell some eggs to raise money for a notebook and a something to write with, as the adult males around her tantalisingly count wads of money directly in front of her watching eyes; Bakatay, relegated into distinctly looking up at this figure handle money thus establishing a position of power, a position not determined by the role of adult over child nor rich over poor; but a gender driven one of the male over the female.
Like Osama and Offside, the film covers this young female's sprawling and unpredictable journey through her respective surroundings. But I found Osama to be a collection of peculiar events strung together more than I found it an affecting piece about actually living under the rule. It was more preoccupied with an approach to film-making that saw it tick boxes more than anything else, in that it felt the drastic need to include: the hardships that exist on women; the raw threat of the Taliban explored within the training camp sequences and the nation's attitudes towards people of a more Caucasian origin, exemplified by the white film-maker character sentenced to death. Budda Collapsed Out of Shame sees a central character wander through her hostile world, but rather than have this act as an excuse to document what goes on within these hostile borders, it fabricates a story; with a character; who has a drive; who has something at stake as they desperately try to attain what it is they want with an innocent, child-like drive.
The fact Osama was the first Afghan film to be produced in 'x' number of years at the time, since the Allied invasion, might go a long way in cracking why it felt the need to document and inform by way of a young girl's wandering than feel like an actual film with a central reason for everything happening around it – did Osama need anyone at all at the core of it in order for it to get across its messages and ideas? Or was it just more interested in informing on what's what. Regardless, Budda Collapsed Out of Shame is a superb exercise in film-making; a harrowing tale of one individual, helpless to the powers that be in the form of both the system and the people she meets. One particular sequence that captures the terror of her plight, in which a group of kids 'play' Taliban, a disturbing game in which mock-graves are dug and a stoning of the lead is supposedly instigated, sticks in memory. There is a disturbing undercurrent of realism to it, a blurred line that the boys cross as to whether it really is just a game; and in a film in which education and various youngsters picking up on individual things are at the core, the 'skills' and techniques the kids playing Taliban practise on Bakatay may well be read into as pure foreshadowing. If the identical opening and closing shots of found footage are anything to go by, Makhmalbaf's view of the overall situation is that unless things change, these sorts of things are just going to keep happening.
- Mar 27, 2010