Movie review – Wadjda (2012)

Wadjda is a special movie for many reasons. Not only was this the first ever Saudi submission to the Oscars, it was also the first feature film made by a female director of Saudi origin. Indeed, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the lives of women are restricted in many ways, a woman making a movie is not an every-day occurrence. It offers a rare glimpse into a world that still largely remains hidden from the public.

Wadjda is a 10-years old Saudi girl struggling to fit within a traditional society. Just like her male friend Abdullah, she wants to ride a bike, but the conservative Saudi society disapproves of girls riding bikes, believing it to be dangerous to their virtue. As her mother will not buy her a bike, enterprising Wadjda tries to raise the money herself. When she is about to give up, a unique opportunity presents itself: the Quran recitation competition at school. The first prize? Just about enough money to buy her dream bike. Never a particularly good and devout student, Wadjda signs up.

Segregation and strict moral codes. Addressing many contemporary Saudi issues, the movie shows what it is like to live in Saudi Arabia for women. Not being allowed to drive and having to cover themselves in public at all times are just two of the limitations that Saudi women face. We not only see Wadjda struggle with her childhood bike racing dreams, her mother is facing even greater problems, with her husband considering a second wife. Both women are trying to deal with life in a conservative society in their own way. Toughing everyday images from a closed Kingdom.


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