In the current Weekly Writing Challenge, you’re asked to “leave your comfort zones” by exploring new styles/ forms/ schemes of writing you normally don’t use. For me, this maybe would be writing dialogues – I really look up to people who succeed in writing two-pages-long dialogues since I decided to keep it short and simple for the grace of my readers’ pleasure – or dealing with love stories – I tend to make it either too tragic or too romantic – but here, I’m going to explore the field of reviews after years again, this time on the film “Wadjda” by director Haifaa al-Mansour.
I don’t like riding bicycles and walk instead everytime I have the chance to do so, making a trip by car also doesn’t belong to my favourite past-time. In these things, I’m maybe a typical European – I enjoy taking sitting in a bus or in a tram, watching the landscape passing by or reading a book (as long as no group of drunken football fans happens to be in the same place as me). But, if I was to change my mind about this, I could – without any problems – go to the next shop and buy a bike, or a car.
Women my age in Saudi-Arabia aren’t allowed to ride a bicyle without being accompanied by a male person, neither do they have the right to drive a car themselves. In fact, these rules apply to all female citizens of Saudi-Arabia. Plus, it’s not very appreciated that women talk to men who are not their relatives, without even speaking of the fact that showing too much of your face, hair, etc. in public can be quite risky.
So what happens if suddenly a 11-years-old girl wants to have a bicycle for having a race with the little boy living next door? Female director Haifaa al-Mansour’s film “Wadjda” deals with all the struggles erupting from this idea. But the piece isn’t simply about Wadjda’s various attempts to turn her own limited world upside down. It’s about a woman whose husband marries again because she hasn’t given birth to a son, it’s about a 11-years-old being married to a 20-years-old man she has never seen before, it’s about two teenage girls suddenly being labeled as lesbians in school just because they innocently touched each other …
“Wadjda” is, from an European perspective, a fantasy film, so surreal are all the stories told. Just – if you live as a woman in Saudi-Arabia, every detail told isn’t fantasy but tragic reality as discribed earlier in this text.
In the end, Wadjda gets what she wants. Now, you could say, this is only a film, what is going to change for women in Saudi-Arabia? Yes, maybe you’re right and it’s “only” a film, words and images going to vanish soon in the future. But Haifaa al-Mansour – her piece being the first full-length feature shot made entirely in Saudi-Arabia, Waad Mohammed – she plays Wajda, and all the others being involved in the film show that even with small steps, you leave visible and unreplacable traces in the sand.
For more information on “Wadjda”:
My reflections on the challenge: Was it hard? Yes – maybe I should have chosen a piece that I don’t like to write about. Are you going to use anything from this work for your other writing? Well, looking at the next words I guess you’ll realize that I prefer sticking to fiction : -)
fresh air in my face
feet leaving the ground