Saturday, August 23, 2014


Some preliminary reports for the listing of new films for the 2014 edition of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die include the Saudia Arabian film Wadjda. We showed this film for our foreign film series at the library last week and though we didn't get a big turnout, the film was well received and I was quite taken with it.

It's a small scale film that draws obvious comparisons with the neo-realistic classic, The Bicycle Thief. However, the stakes are different here. Wadjda's bicycle isn't an economic necessity like in The Bicycle Thief, but a dream of something she desires while the society she lives in frowns upon her having it.

I would be predisposed to rooting for this movie after reading about the difficult odyssey of female Saudi filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour in getting this movie made. Financing it was difficult in that Saudi Arabia has no film industry to speak of and the fact that she was a female director didn't exactly open doors.

Luckily, the finished product is a most interesting character and societal study, and al-Mansour's difficult decision to shoot it in Saudi Arabia pays off. I feel I'm inside a society I've never seen before and really get to know the struggles of Wadjda, her family, her friends, her schoolmates and teachers.

Obviously, I'd be happy to see this one on the next 1001 list.


  1. I just saw this, too. I liked it quite a bit. I was worried going in that it would be preachy, but it turned out to be delightful. While it did not shy away from showing how women live in Saudi Arabia, it didn't make it the central part of the plot, either. Instead we get a story most anyone can relate to of an adolescent girl fixating on something and going through various trials and tribulations to get it.

    For me, the key was that the film is not about a Saudi girl, but is about a girl who just happens to be Saudi.

  2. Glad you liked it to. And thanks for posting the updated list of movies. I assumed there wouldn't be an update this year. Guess they'll put out a new list every year as long as people keep buying the book. That's not necessarily a bad thing.