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. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn't 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 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 Quran recitation competition at her school. She devotes herself...Written by
Razor Film Produktion GmbH
Written by Adam Fox and Stephen Day
Published by Sonoton Music GmbH & Co. KG
With kind permission of Sonoton Music Gmbh & Co. KG See more »
Brave and Brilliant Effort from Saudi's First Female Director - A Simple Yet Delightful Story About Freedom!
In a land where where cinemas are illegal, the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia by its first female director, 'Wadjda' is simple yet alluring neorealist film about a child and a bicycle. Haifaa Al-Mansour's brave effort gives us an interesting glimpse into the lives of women in a strict religious country like Saudi Arabia.
Being scolded for not wearing a head-scarf to school and for singing when her father's friends are in the other room (women unable to show themselves or their talents in presence of men), being sexually harassed by a building site worker, seeing her mother sad and angry because her dad is about to marry another woman (desperation for a male heir and the existence of polygamy), her mother almost losing her job because of her dependence on a rude driver (women are not allowed to drive any kind of transport), seeing one of her classmates getting married (rare but existent child marriages), seeing two elder schoolmates get wrongfully accused of immoral intimate conduct, and feeling disappointed after not seeing her name in the family tree (only male children are given importance); these are just few of the female struggles we see through the eyes of our young tomboy heroine, Wadjda. From the very first scene where she stands out in a group of singing school girls with her converse shoes, we see Wadjda as someone rebellious and strong. In a repressive land where women are oppressed, based on strict religious laws, not only by men but by other women as well, Wadjda dreams of having a green bicycle, so that she could overtake her annoying yet caring friend Abdullah. Though girls are not allowed to ride bikes, she starts collecting money by selling love-song mixed tapes and football club bracelets to her schoolmates. And thus begins her journey. Just like 'The Bicycle Thief', the bicycle here signifies freedom.
The young yet incredibly talented Waad Mohammed gives a charming performance, and carries the movie on her shoulders with terrific ease. Waad along with Haifaa (Director) are the two brave talents that emerge from this feature. All the supporting actors act commendably as well. International composer Max Richter's background score is subtle yet as captivating as the movie itself. Shot with such authentic beauty, there are many scenes which stay in your mind long after the movie is over, one of which is where the young friend Abdullah asks Wadjda, in an adorably sweet way, if she knows that he wants to marry her when they grow up; the scene has a lot of meaning and hope attached to it.
It's not just a critique on Saudi society, but it's a universal story which talks about a society's limitations and possibilities.
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