Greetings again from the darkness. One would be hard-pressed to name anyone currently on the planet who is more deserving of having her story told than Malala Yousafzai. In case you don’t recognize the name, Malala is the teenage girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out in favor of education for Pakistani girls.
Unlike her namesake in the legendary story told to open the film, this Malala somehow survived the gunshot and has continued her mission of spreading the importance of education throughout the globe. Her efforts resulted in her being named the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014. This girl is extraordinary and inspiring.
Davis Guggenheim has proven his expertise in the documentary world with excellent work in Waiting for Superman (2010) and his Oscar winner An Inconvenient Truth (2006). Though Malala may be his most fascinating subject to date, this is probably not his best filmmaking. The extensive use of animation distracts from Malala’s story, and also Guggenheim’s attempts to show the teenage girl that exists alongside the global activist are often disjointed. We enjoy seeing her warm and sincere interactions with her brothers and her embarrassment at low grades on school work, but each time one of these sequences begins, the film abruptly shifts to another incident – possibly as a reminder to us that her life is anything but normal.
Some of the film’s highlights include Malala’s speech to the United Nations assembly, the crime scene photographs of the bus on which she and her friends were shot, and those moments when she lets her emotions roam free … she mutters “It’s so hard to get things done in this world”. We feel her pain and find ourselves wanting to stand with Malala.
Much of what we see is from her promotional tour to support her book “I am Malala”, and it’s her words and commitment to the cause that leave such an impression. Guggenheim hints that her father may have pushed her into this life, but this wise-beyond-her-years young woman has more than earned our respect and admiration. She convinces us that the best way to “arm” young people around the world is with books and a pen … the most powerful weapons. Her courage and commitment cause us to question our actions as 17 year olds. What a truly extraordinary person she is.
To learn more about her mission: https://www.malala.org/malalas-story
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