If ever there was a breakthrough movie for women in cinema it has to be Wadjda, a clever and sweet multilayered film that not only has a pop at the repressive Saudi regime but the hypocrisy of Islam. The fact it even got made is a miracle. Because of restrictions placed on women in Saudi Arabia, director Haifaa Al-Mansour was not allowed to interact with her mostly male crew on the suburbs of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi oppression. She had to direct the street scenes from a nearby blacked out van, watching through a monitor and giving instructions via walkie-talkie.
Man created God to control women to smooth their feeble male egos, none more so than in Saudi society, women expected to hide if men gaze upon them, why they can’t leave the houses unless in shaded cars or under religious dress. They can’t even legally drive cars. But they sell cheap oil and buy our arms and so it’s ok. This would be the first feature length film made by a female Saudi director and the first feature length film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. Movies empower people, why they don’t get to make them there. As it was showing subtle decent towards the twisted Saudi regime Hollywood studios heavily supported by Saudi and Middle East oil money were encouraged not to support it in the Best Foreign movie category at the Oscars. It should have won. It’s fabulous. This is feminism in a way men can appreciate. Never has a pushbike been more liberating.
• Reem Abdullah as Mother
• Waad Mohammed as Wadjda
• Abdullrahman Al Gohani as Abdullah
• Sultan Al Assaf as Father
• Ahd Kamel as Ms Hussa (credited as Ahd)
• Ibrahim Al Mozael as Toyshop Owner
• Nouf Saad as Qu'ran Teacher
• Rafa Al Sanea as Fatima
• Alanoud Sajini as Fatin
• Rehab Ahmed as Noura
• Dana Abdullilah as Salma
• Mohammed Zahir as Iqbal - the Driver
Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) is a happy young girl but she wants more, a bicycle to be precise. She is little rebel at heart and wears American sneakers under her religious dress and loves pop music, a flogging offence in the more rural areas outside of the Saudi capital. She is determined to raise enough pocket money to buy the bike and has her eye on one in a nearby store, the male owner promising to save it for her. Wadjda has all manner of methods to raise the cash, be it flogging handmade friendship bracelets or selling errands, a determined and intelligent young lady. Girls don’t ride bikes, of course, and bringing shame on her family if she does. But Wadjda is a free spirit and nothing will stop her.
Her little neighbor Abdullah (Abdullrahman Al Gohani) in their comfortable middle-class suburb takes a shine to Wad and promises to help her learn to ride, a love story of sorts. Baring in mind her 12-year-old classmate Salma (Dana Abdullilah) has been made to marry a 30-year-old man then nothing is impossible in this contradictory country of what it is good and what is bad.
At school Wadjda’s teacher, Mrs Hussa (Ahd Kamel), attempts to tame the young rebel, convincing her to take extra religious classes to learn greater peace with God. Wadja decides to use the annual Koran competition at the classes to make her point. Wadjda’s mother (Reem Abdullah) is also going through it with martial problems as her husband (Sultan Al Assaf) contemplates taking a second wife. Saudi society is set up to put women in their place and the girls must grab every freedom they can, however small, for Wadjda a bike, for mom, a sexy red dress, and for the hypocrite Mrs Mussa, a fling with a local shop keeper. If only the sisterhood could stick together?
This charming, sweet and deceptively simple film about a little girl with a dream that defies the culture, in which she lives, is a breath of fresh air; the insight into her lifestyle, the western things she is just able to do and the culture forced on her are fascinating. We simply don’t know how Saudi women cope with this oppression and the lives they live. This movie has opened those eyes. If men cast eyes over women in lust and admiration it is deemed shameful to the women and not the men and so women and girls have to hideway. What pretty girl doesn’t want to be looked at? It’s crazy.
The film skillfully disguises its liberal intentions and message with a superbly veiled screenplay pop at Islam and the Saudis, its own metaphorical burka. This is a regime that funded 911 and then told America to blame Afghanistan for it or no cheap oil. People think America is the world’s super power. Wrong. The final scene is incredibly powerful for such an innocuous action and sums up the choices the Saudi’s will have to make as women begin to push for equal rights in an increasingly fragile Middle East. American can’t prop up the House of Saud for ever.
It’s a beautiful film and we can’t help falling for little Wadjda as she use the forces of oppression to subtly fight back with innocence and guile. The love story with little Abdullah makes you smile as we all remember our first favorite at middle school. Mine was Yasmina, a young Asian girl. I carried her school bag home. That was love to me.
Even if you hate the chore of subtitles you will love this movie. It’s not a talky film in anyway and what is spoken, matters. It’s such a cute and clever movie in so many ways and fairplay to the brave female director for even taking on this project. It’s also a superb performance by Waad Mohammed as Wadjda, probably the most important in Middle Eastern film for a while. Muslim men in these regimes seem pretty pathetic in the way they treat women over there and clearly humiliated by this brilliant movie. If you are going to see one foreign movie this year then make sure it’s this one.
Imdb.com – 7.6/10.0 (10,519votes)
Rottentomatos.com –99% critic’s approval
Metacriitc.com – 81% critic’s approval
Leonard Maltin Film Year Book –
The Guardian –‘A warm, winning, restless film...Beautiful, modestly progressive and heartfelt, with a wonderful, brash central performance from first-timer Waad Mohammed’.
Independent –‘In the title role Mohammed makes a sweet scamp, wry and watchful, always chancing her arm even as she senses trouble ahead -- which is, in a nutshell, what most Saudi women can expect of life’
Sydney Morning Herald –‘The overall pro-freedom message comes through loud and clear. Rhetorically speaking, the trick of using childish innocence to reveal adult hypocrisy is virtually foolproof’.
Sight & Sound –‘Haifaa al Mansour's debut merits recognition for its fresh-feeling take on the trope whereby the travails of a child protagonist mirror those of a wider society’.
Movie Mezzanine –‘There are important films and there are good films, and the two do not necessarily always overlap. Wadjda is both important and very, very good’.
The Times –‘The film disguises its liberal editorial message with a superbly veiled screenplay; we're just looking ... but of course, we're also seeing, a much more invasive activity’.
~ ~ The ‘mad cabbie’ still remembers sitting on my late father’s knee when I was about 5-years-old (1956) and watching a small, black box with flickering black and white pictures in the corner of the room, telling the gripping tale of two convicts who managed to get themselves sealed into their escape tunnel from a Federal Penitentiary. (Don’t ask me the name of the movie though; my memory isn’t THAT good!) In the nearly forty years since then, television has been an integral part of my leisure time, as it is with the majority of the population. I’ve had many, many favourite programmes over the years. You know, the ones which you used to arrange your social diary around so as not to miss! (before the advent of video recorders!) And many, many times I have lamented the passing of a favourite programme or series, as the actors either moved onto bigger and better things, died off, or the programme simply reached the end of its ‘sell by’ date. ~ ~ But a month or so back I eventually subscribed to the new ‘TV Revolution’, and paid the requisite spondoolicks (cash) to be connected up to the NTL Digital Network. Among the 80 or so channels that I can now choose from is an absolute beauty of a channel called ‘Granada Plus’. It’s only available to Sky and Digital TV customers, and is in fact jointly owned by the TV station Granada and Sky themselves. And ever since I discovered ‘Granada Plus’, I have been spending an absolute fortune on videotapes, and doing my level best to wear out the motor on my old Philips VCR. The reason? Simple. Here I can watch again (and tape) literally dozens of the programmes that were my favourites over the last four decades of watching the old ‘goggle box’. Maybe it’s just me, and a symptom of my growing forever older, but the truth (as the ‘mad cabbie’ sees it) is that they simply don’t seem
to be making brilliant programmes like the selection you can find on ‘Granada Plus’ anymore. Or am I biased? What’s On Offer? ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Granada Plus offers an eclectic mix of programmes, ranging from old comedy series, to detective and cowboy stories, drama series, and the occasional brilliant old movie thrown in for good measure. I can’t possibly list them all, as my opinion would be rejected as too lengthy by dooyoo, but there’s a good website which will give you all the background to the different programmes on offer, and much more interesting information to boot. http://www.plustv.co.uk/listings/programmelist.php So I’ll content myself with telling you about just some of the programmes that are among my own personal favourites. The Army Game (1957-1961) This was one of my late parents favourite comedy shows. It stars Alfie Bass as Private 'Bootsie' Bisley, Bill Fraser as Sgt Major Claude Snudge, and Charles Hawtrey (of Carry On fame) as Private 'Professor' Hatchett. Set in an army camp at the time when the UK still had conscription, it’s a hilarious half-hour comedy show of everyday life in an army barracks. It was later to spawn a spin-off show called ‘Bootsie and Snudge’ about civilian life after the pair were eventually discharged from the army back into ‘civvy street’. Bless This House (1971-76) Starring the late, great Sid James as Sid Abbott, and Diana Coupland as his long-suffering wife Jean. A super comedy about family life, with Sid, his missus, and their two teenage off-spring. Made especially to display the comic genius of Sid James by producer Gerald Thomas, who was responsible for many of the Carry On films in which “oor Siderney” (no relation to dooyoo's own sidneygee) also played a starring role. In Sickness And In Health (1985-92) I grew up with the ‘politi
cally incorrect’ humour of Alf Garnett (Warren Mitchell) in the series called ‘Till Death Us Do Part’, which first hit the TV screens in 1965, and which quickly became part of the British culture, spawning such great catch-phrases as “You silly old moo”. This is the follow-up series to the original, and still stars Dandy Nichols as Alf’s ‘silly old moo’ wife Else, and Una Stubbs as his daughter Rita. In the later episodes, Else has passed on, and new characters are introduced, in the form of actress Carmel McSharry as Mrs Hollingberry, who Alf plans to make the second Mrs. Garnett, and Arthur English as Arthur, Alf’s mate and drinking partner. Written by Johnny Speight, this series, and the later ‘An Audience With Alf Garnett’ (1997) introduced Alf’s black humour to a whole new audience who had missed it the first time around. Rising Damp (1974-1978) One of the two television series which made the name of British comedian Leonard Rossiter a household byword in the 1970’s, the other being the “Rise And Fall Of Reginald Perrin” (I didn’t get where I am today by…..) In this comedy series he stars as a miserable old git of a landlord called Rigsby, who runs a run-down old guesthouse with three tenants. Frances de la Tour co-stars as Ruth, who Rigsby secretly fancies, and the late Richard Beckinsale (who also starred with Ronnie barker in ‘Porridge’) plays Alan, a gormless young fella. (he won a BAFTA award for the role in 1978) Leonard Rossiter was/is one of my favourite comedy actors, who unfortunately met with an early death before his true genius was fully appreciated. ~ ~ So far I’ve only mentioned old comedy shows, and it would be fair to say that these are very well represented here on Granada Plus. (Other favourites would be ‘George and Mildred’ starring Brian Murphy Yootha Joyce, and ‘On T
he Buses’ starring Reg Varney, another two comedies very much in the ‘Carry On’ mould) But old (and some not so old) drama series also make up a lot of the programme schedule. Again, here are some of my own personal favourites. Rumpole of the Bailey (1978-92) These are the televised tales of author John Mortimer, who won the prestigious ‘Edgar Allan Poe Award’ for the best crime and mystery writer for the creation of his unforgettable character, Horace Rumpole, the Old Bailey barrister with a disliking for convention and a strong liking for his favourite ‘plonk’, (wine) which he partakes of at every possible opportunity. Veteran Australian actor Leo McKern made the role of Rumpole his very own, to the extent that you would swear that the part was specially written just for him. Rumpole is forever the underachiever, and cannot progress up the ladder in ‘chambers’ because of his penchant for the booze, and his liking for taking on cases that more respectable barristers wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. This despite marrying the old retired ‘head of chambers’ daughter, who is now the only person he seems to fear. (She who must be obeyed!!) But if I were ever to personally run seriously foul of the law, then it would be a barrister like Horace Rumpole that I would pick out as my own defence lawyer. I’ll never grow tired of watching this brilliant series. Kavanagh QC (1995-99) This is a more recent courtroom drama series that I’m sure many of my readers will be very aware of. It stars the late John Thaw, one of the UK’s most renowned and talented actors of the past generation, as a top barrister. (Queen’s Council) Not to be missed, even if it isn’t as old as some of the programmes that feature on Granada Plus. Cracker (1993-96) Oh, was I ever sad when this marvellous drama series came to an end back in
1996. It stars the marvellous Scottish actor/comedian Robbie Coltrane as Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald, the police psychologist with massive psychological problems of his own, as he has more than a passing interest in one of Scotland’s largest exports, (whisky) and an equally unquenchable passion for gambling. (especially the horses and casinos) Fitz has a somewhat radical approach to his work, (to say the least) but has the rather disconcerting habit of always seeming to be able to ‘second guess’ the bad guys. (and gals) A romantic theme entered this hard-hitting drama series when Fitz’s marriage began to fall apart, and he began an on-screen romance with one of the young police officers, D.S. Jane Penhaligon. (Geraldine Somerville) This series was nominated for a BAFTA award on no fewer than 10 occasions, and came out a winner six times. Robbie Coltrane won a BAFTA award for his own role as Fitz on three separate occasions. Totally compelling viewing. Miami Vice (1984-89) This was one of the best (and most popular) American cop shows of the mid-1980’s. Starring Don Johnson as Detective James "Sonny" Crockett and Phillip Michael Thomas as Detective Ricardo Tubbs, this series was directed in his own inimitable style by Hollywood director Michael Mann. He gave the studios exactly what they wanted. Two ‘stylish’ cops who would appeal to the new generation of viewers, with their Rolex watches, shiny designer suits (and stubble) and their liking for fast cars and even faster women. The music was fantastic, (I still have an old tape somewhere in my ‘joe maxi’) and the list of Hollywood stars that made guest appearances on this show reads like a ‘who’s who’. (Bruce Willis, Wesley Snipes and Pam Grier, to name just a few) Columbo (1968- Present) This American cop series is still running today, some 34 years after it first hit the TV
screens. Starring Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo, this is a series that never fails to both intrigue and amuse the viewers. Columbo, with his glass eye and the old dirty raincoat that looks like it is a reject from a charity shop is one of the unlikeliest detectives you’d ever imagine. But he has a way of disarming the baddies, and always gets his man. (or woman) An amazing tit-bit that I picked up from the Granada Plus website is that Peter Falk wasn’t the first choice to play the role, which was turned down by the late Bing Crosby. Another fascinating bit of trivia is that the 1971 movie, ‘Murder By The Book’ based on the series, was directed by no less a luminary than the great Steven Spielberg. Peter Falk went on to make the role his very own, and has picked up four EMMY awards and a Golden Globe award for the part. The Sweeney (1975-78) Yet another British cop series, starring a young John Thaw (Kavanagh QC and Inspector Morse) as a tough, uncompromising Flying Squad (Sweeney Todd, hence the title) detective, Inspector Jack Regan, who chews nails for his breakfast, and spits out the bad guys like grape seeds. This series co-starred Dennis Waterman (who later went on to star in ‘Minder’ with George Cole) as Regan’s sidekick, Detective Sergeant George Carter. This was one of the first TV series to portray the old English ‘bobby’ as anything other than as pure as the driven snow. Regan and Carter were as violent and as liable to ‘bend’ the law as the crooks they were attempting to arrest. A little titbit from the Granada Plus website tells us that George Cole, who later starred with Dennis Waterman in ‘Minder’, actually made an appearance in the Sweeney, in an episode entitled ‘The Tomorrow Man’. (must keep my eyes skinned for that one!) The programme hasn’t really aged that well, what with ‘kipper ties’ and old
Ford Granada cars. But it still has bite, and it surely brings back some memories for the ‘mad cabbie’. ~ ~ Well, I could probably go on for another 2,000 words or so folks, and tell you all about other ‘golden oldies’ like Starsky and Hutch, the Dick Emery Show, The New Statesman, Hill Street Blues, Taggart, and the Man From Uncle. But why don’t you go and have a look at the Granada Plus website for yourselves. It really is an absolute belter of a channel, and will no doubt become more readily available as more and more television viewers begin to change over to the new Digital broadcasting. Highly recommended by the ‘mad cabbie’. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Copyright KenJ November 2002. ~~~~~~~~~~~~
Well I particularly like Granada Plus ,because I am a Jeeves and Wooster fan,they can sometimes be seen on this channel.In the program Bertie Wooster ,posh Gent has Stephen Fry as his butler.They are really funny stories, that send up the upper classes of the 1920s,when the rich were really wealthy,but also had a real style about them.These two actors are superb ,and extremly funny.English humour at its best. Also I like *Piorot*,and other Detective stories .Which have individual charm as programs,these are the sort of programs on Plus . Also programs like *Kojac*,that Im not particularly keen on ,but we all have different tastes. I quite like the series called * Nanny*, with Wendy Craig starring as the Nanny in a large Wartime house ,moving and amusing stories are in this program. Also in the listings are *Porridge* stories set in a prison ,very amusing. This channel is full of old repeat programs ,if they were favorites of yours you will no doubt enjoy,I just wish they had *Jeeves and Wooster* stories on more often. One more program I sometimes watch is *Tales of the unexpected* ,this is usually a double bill. Granada plus, is well worth the money provided by Sky TV ,as one of its channels . Tonight Plus featured a special treat *Jane Eyre*one of my favorite stories in play form,Author Charlotte Bronte. *Jeeves and Wooster* can be seen next Saturday at 7pm. Following this is a serial,about a nuclear power station ,a little sordid in places, that spoilt the story line for me otherwise intriugeing ,and well acted . They havnt had any *Jeeves and Wooster* on since I did this opinion ,or *Nanny*, sigh.
Granada Plus was one of our main reasons to get Digital TV a few months ago, as I love 1970s sitcoms and this is the best TV channel for those. It is easy to spend hours watching Granada Plus, becoming absorbed in the wonderful programmes they show each day and wallowing in nostalgia. Terry and June is one of my favourite programmes on this channel - the brilliant sitcom about a husband and wife, played by the incredibly talented pairing of Terry Scott and June Whitfield. This is one time in the day when I ensure I am plonked in front of the box with a cup of tea, for MY half an hour! It is currently shown at 9:30am and 12:30pm, Wednesdays to Fridays. Classic Coronation Street is another programme I try to watch each day, especially as it is on just before Terry and June. If you want to see the original (and best!) Susan Barlow, Sarah-Lou as a baby - not with one, Sally and Kevin as a newly-wed childless couple or brighten up your day with Bet's earrings, this is for you. Oh yes, the endless Ken and Dierdre saga was still ongoing, sigh... On The Buses and Mind Your Language are programmes I watch occasionally. I loved them as a child, but they aren't quite as good nowadays, I find. Of course, the stereotypes in Mind Your Language - set in an adult education class, with "foreigners" learning English - are appallingly embarrassing these days, but it can still raise a titter at times. Please, Sir! is as good as I remember it, Duty Free is much, much worse. Granada Plus is great for refreshing your memory and showing you which programmes really do deserve their 'classic' label and which don't. The programme listings regularly change, often after a series has been shown in its entirety, but chances are it will be back in a few weeks. It's a bit like buses - don't worry, there might not be a good series on now, but soon enough, there will be three along at once! On hiatus at the
moment, and sadly missed, are the wonderful Bless This House (another classic, with the wonderful Sid James as the head of the family, with Diana Coupland as his wife and Sally Geeson and Robin Stewart as his children), Man About The House (starring Richard O' Sullivan as Robin Tripp, who shares a flat with two girls played by Sally Thomsett and Paula Wilcox) and the two spin-off sitcoms, both regularly shown on Granada Plus - George and Mildred (with Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce as the couple) and Robin's Nest - Robin Tripp setting up a restaurant, aided by Tessa Wyatt. Of course, there are plenty of programmes on here that I don't watch (Honest!) - Hawaii Five-O, The Biran Conley Show (Ugh!), Hart To Hart, Poirot, Bullseye (Oh no, not Jim Bowen!) and many others, but you might enjoy them. We all have different tastes, after all. Unfortunately for those who live with me, my taste is firmly stuck in the seventies!
This is one channel I watch a lot of. I love watching Sorry, Robin’s nest, George and Mildred, FiveO, the professionals. You will also find very good dramas on this channel ranging from the Chief to Taggart. The channel is on Sky Digital As part of the family package and analogue and cable. The picture quality can sometimes be quite poor although I put this done to some of the old series been shown. The sound quality is good and I have no problems with this. If you like Coronation St then this is the place to be to watch all those classics. I recommend this to anybody who likes comedy, drama and soaps.
Being a bit of an oldie myself (47), I find the repertoire of Granada Plus quite appealing. Most of the material is from the archives of Granada, but also from London Weekend Television (which Granada happens to own) and also a staple diet of used to be popular imports (Tele Savalas in Kojak, Jack Lord in Hawaii 5 0). My main gripe is that it finishes at midnight, and, being a bit of an insomniac, I would quite like some more choice in the wee small hours...