Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I saw this film a few weeks ago. It's riveting. THankfully, it is only 1.5 hours long... too much more and I would have had nightmares. I think it's very important. Check out Peter M. Nichols's review from today's New York Times, titled "Whatever it Takes to Outwit the Taliban:"

In a talk accompanying his film "Osama," available today from MGM, the Afghan director Siddiq Barmak says that at first he resisted a scholarship to learn movie making in Russia because of the Soviet invasion of his homeland. But the urge to study prevailed, and later he came across a story about a girl in Kabul who disguised herself as a boy so she could go to school under the noses of the Taliban.

In "Osama," the first feature film made in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power in 1996, Marina Golbahari plays a girl whose hair is cut short by her mother so she can go forth as a boy, Osama, to earn an income and keep her family from starving.

A Western journalist (male) caught paying a few $1 bills to film a women's revolt is instantly executed by a firing squad. A woman pronounced guilty of profanity is stoned to death. Eventually caught herself, Osama is spared but is subjected to a particularly devastating humiliation.

Mr. Barmak cast Afghan children still fearful of the Taliban. For Ms. Golbahari, he says, the penalty of life under such circumstances is reflected in her eyes. In Afghanistan, he adds, everything has been destroyed, including the mentality of the people.

Like Roman Polanski's "Pianist," the film "Osama," A. O. Scott wrote in The New York Times, "is a meticulous and beautifully made inquiry into the ways that ideological evil can infect, and ultimately destroy, the intimacies and small pleasures of daily life." 2004. $29.98. 82 minutes. Dari Farsi with English subtitles. No rating.

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