Friday, 6 February 2009

Movie Review: Osama

A 12 year old Afghan girl and her mother lose their jobs when the Taliban closes the hospital where they work. The Taliban have also forbidden women to leave their houses without a male "legal companion". With her husband and uncle dead, having been killed in a skirmish during the Soviet Invasion and their civil wars, there are no men left to support the family.

Unable to leave the house without fear of arrest and torture, the mother is left with nowhere to turn. With no other choice, and inspired by a story her mother tells about a young boy who went under a rainbow and became a girl, she disguises her daughter as a boy named "Osama". Osama manages to secure a job at the local tea shop. "His" effeminate ways quickly arouse suspicion among the other boys.

Eventually, in a drive to collect soldiers, the local boys including Osama, are taken from their homes or workplaces by the Taliban to be trained as soldiers. At the training school, they are taught how to fight and conduct ablutions, and Osama realizes it can only be so long before she is found out. Several boys begin to pick on her, and eventually her secret is ousted. The scene forms the most distubing and vicious scene. Arrested, she is put on a trial, and as this case without precedent, her life is spared when she is married off to a man.

This man has delivered a videotape filmed by a western journalist who was also being tried. The new husband already has three wives, all of whom hate him and accuse him of having destroyed their lives, and they take pity on her. It is an Iranian film made in Afghanistan. I admire these movies because they address the viewer sternly, bereft of commercial skills. These films are also personal favourites because of their artistic superiority.

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