Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on May 16th, 2004
We are in the midst of the Taliban’s brutal rule of Afghanistan. The total suppression of allwomen’s rights means that a widow is on the brink of desperation. She cannot work, or evenleave the house without fearing retribution, as there is no male relative to accompany her. Hermother hits upon a solution born of desperation: the 12-year-old daughter will have her hearshorn, will wear male clothing, and so become “Osama,” a young boy. The subterfuge works. Atfirst.
There is no more ironic line of dialogue in this film than this one: “God is kind.” Everythingwe see runs counter to that statement. The recreation of life under the Taliban leads to a visceral,emotionally exhausting experience. The performances (by non-actors) are uniformly convincing,and it is hard not come away from the film without a sense of total despair. Where one can feelhope, perhaps, is in the mere fact that the film was made.
The sound is mono, and given the circumstances in which the film was made, in a countryonly barely crawling out from under another war, expecting stereo would be perverse.Nonetheless, there is some very striking work done with the mono, with some particularlydramatic effects achieved through volume control. The sudden arrival of the Taliban in theopening scene is a case in point. I defy you not to jump.
The picture is very good, with a print surprisingly free of grain and speckles. (I saysurprisingly, because the context in which the film was made, which is reminiscent of the neo-realist Italian films that came out in the immediate wake of WWII.) The colours and flesh tonesare good, and there are no edge enhancement problems. The colours are, in fact, quite rich, andthere are some very beautiful moments amidst all the misery.
Other than the theatrical trailer, the only extra is a 20-minute interview withwriter/director/co-producer Siddiq Barmak. His talk is not only the story of his film, but that ofthis life and of his country. The feature is as moving as it is informative. The menu’s main screenis animated and scored.
A searing, powerful work. See it, but not on a night when you want something light.
Special Features List
- Interview with Director
- Theatrical Trailer