Realism as Resistance: The Case of Wadjda (2013)

Marguerite La Caze
University of Queensland
This paper explores the potential of realist cinema to portray resistance to oppression and restrictions on people’s lives. Wadjda presents a special case in world cinema in being made in Saudi Arabia, which until recently had no film industry or distribution system. The director, Hafaa Al Mansour, has been praised for making the film there at all. Yet this ignores the film’s power in taking a slice of time in the life of a young Riyadh girl, Wadjda, and focussing on her desire to own a bicycle. The film’s realism depicts restrictions on women’s lives in Saudi Arabia and at the same time affirms hope in gradual change through the natality, in Hannah Arendt’s sense, of a child who does not see these constraints as insurmountable obstacles. I argue that realist films can demonstrate the importance of gradual political progress and can anticipate those advances.
Keywords philosophy and film  feminist philosophy  resistance
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