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Wadjda, arabic movie from 2012

Posted on Friday, July 24, 2015 in Movies, Reviews

Recently I watched the Arabic movie Wadjda (also known as The Green Bicycle). Ever since I first read about the movie the first time I’ve been wanting to see it and the other night I had my chance (though it ate up quite a bit of bandwidth). It’s really something out of the ordinary for me to get to see such an ‘exotic’ movie (or rather, one from such an unusual country and in such an unusual language). I have to admit I didn’t know all that much about the Saudi Arabia, except for the oil and the way women are treated. The latter was confirmed throughout the movie. You could say it’s a returning theme. Oppression of women.

Wadjda who is ten, wants a bicycle, because her best friend Abdullah, who is a boy of the same age, has one and her greatest wish is to race him and win. She’s actually not all that nice to Abdullah and answers him rather sharply. He, on the other hand, is prepared to do anything for her. A very sweet little boy.

Wadjda’s father doesn’t live with her and her mom and after a while you begin to understand why. The mother does everything she can to keep him in a good mood, and rigidly follows every rule women need to follow. She’s torn between her husband and and the opportunity to live a more modern life, with the help of a friend who works in a modern, almost Western hospital. The friend is prepared to help her get a job there, but at the last moment, the mother backs out. Unfortunately, it does her no good.

Wadjda is a bit of a rebel, even apart from the bicycle dream, which fits well into her personality in general. She’s listening to Western music, she’s wearing a pair of trainers under her long black dress. Other girls run when men are nearby, but Wadjda doesn’t even bother to cover herself better with her veil. One day she even arrives in school with her veil off and is ordered to cover up more completely. She doesn’t really care about studying, and doesn’t even read all that well, until the day she realizes she can win a lot of money by entering the Quran contest, arranged by the Religion Club. It appears the Quran is much more complicated than I imagined. The contest is only one way Wadjda is trying to make money to buy her beloved bicycle. In Saudi Arabia (and possibly in other Muslim countries) is that girls and women shouldn’t ride bikes, for many reasons. They even believe it can ruin their ability to bear children in the future.

The movie is full of scenes that really hits you hard, like when you realize why Wadjda’s dad isn’t living with them anymore, or when Wadjda studies her father’s family tree with a great deal of interest. It lacks all the female names. She tries to remedy that, but soon discovers that her father has crumpled her handwritten note and thrown it away. You get the impression it’s only then that she realizes what a situation she and the other girls are living in. She ought to have seen that before, but Wadjda is a rather self-absorbed girl. Her very Quran learned classmate, Salma, is married off at ten, but apparently she’s allowed to still go to school. An older girl, that Wadjda helped connect with her older brother (to obtain a permit to see a boy) is arrested by the Vice Squad, is expelled from school and married off. Two other older girls are publicly shamed for being ‘sinful’. I didn’t understand exactly what they were supposed to have done, except for reading magazines, but it was hinted that they were in love.

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