He Named Me Malala Review - Beautiful, Inspiring, Timely, Necessary

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He Named Me Malala, from Fox Searchlight Pictures and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, presents a beautifully crafted auto biography of the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner and the incredible journey that brought her to that place.

In association with Participant Media and National Geographic Channel, He Named Me Malala allows the camera of Oscar winning director Davis Guggenheim and the producing team of Walter Parkers and Laurie MacDonald into the home, life and past of Malala Yousafzai and her family, Zaiuddin Yousafzai, her father, Toor Pekai Yousafzai, her mother and her two younger brothers, Khushal (15) and Atal (11).

He Named Me Malala begins with a story, spoken in voice over by Malala and presented on screen in beautiful, gentle dreamlike, picture book animation sequences that play on screen. This style of live action sequences and animation sequences runs throughout live action. The combination works wonderfully.

The story of this lush paradise, Swat Valley, Pakistan, where a Kurdish people called home and the first of many wars that would come into their valley. This time, a child, a female name Malalai rallied the armies and stopped the men from believing the voice of fear. She was killed in battle.

The animation continues to tell the birth a Malala. Rising from the past, a child was born, and an adamant and devoted father named her Malala, a women of “bravery.” Her early childhood was a typical of a Middle Eastern child. Her parents loved each other, and loved their children.

The story of course is being told because a 17 year old boy, shaking as he pointed the trigger, a Taliban in training, approached the van Malala and her two friends, Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, were riding as they came home from school, and fired. The bullet entered Malala’s left brow, causing severe brain trauma, and swelling and like any grave gun injury, the bullet itself wreaks havoc on the body. Humans are not meant to be used as target practice.  

Previous to this day, Malala had been defying the Taliban rule and attending school, which is strictly forbidden. She had also agreed to write a journal for BBC Television on Life inside the Taliban, she was vocal, outspoken, demanding equal education rights for her and every female in Pakistan. The louder her message the more determined the Taliban became at silencing her.

The trauma was so severe she would need additional medical treatment and was airlifted from Pakistan and flown to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, for further treatment and recovery.

Miraculously she survived the night and the flight. Her recovery was videotaped and live footage from those early dark days, when she couldn’t catch a ball to sitting and standing from a Pilates exercise training ball.

The attempted murder of Malala was the shot heard around the world. It was only minutes after when the BBC was reporting and the crush of media began what has become common to her. Wherever she goes she is meet with the same crush of media.

She was quoted as saying after the shooting, “Nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”

Her family, whom she adores, has adjusted to life outside Pakistan. Her younger brothers and father probably more so than her mother. Malala compartmentalizes life very well. He Named Me Malala showcases this as she is a world leader, a struggling student, recovery and time away caused the superior student to slip somewhat in her marks which is important to her.

She is a boy shy teen, or was during the making of the film. She is beautiful, charming, kind with strength of character uncommon to humanity, and a gentle soul. She and her family have a home life, separate from the media life that Malala and her Father, Ziauddin, have. He the son of a gifted orator, has struggled with stuttering, which was hardly noticeable until mentioned. Now he speaks, when his daughter does not, on her behalf.

The animation that complements the story explains the background of Ziauddin, the son unable to speak as his words would fall empty to the ground fought through this with a determination and soon it changed. He was gifted, he struggled and won the fight against the evil that wanted to silence him.

Malala is the youngest person to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize, which she share with Kailash Satyarthi, and Indian Children’s Right Advocate. Her courage, dedication and bravery, led her to stand and speak for educational equality as the Taliban would destroying the schools, reducing the sanctuary of learning for children without thought or concern fueled by hate, into a pile of rubble. Nothing would be left as school after school was demolished.

I was captivated by He Named Me Malala. Malala is charming, matter of fact, as she moved in between lives, world leader and teen age daughter and sister, her personality, the real teenage girl was evident. She was cast into the spotlight and the experience changed her life and subsequently the world has been and will continue to be changed also.

Jason Carpenter headed up the animation team, as a creator his “mosaic” was instrumental in the story though the use of whispering, wispy, upswept motions which were so important in complementing the factual elements of the story. It was lovely.

Davis Guggenheim, gained the trust of the family over the course of the two years of filming and even Toor, Malala’s mom, allowed herself to be captured on film. He managed to tell the story, in a way that captured the audience, as the film is so much more than a documentary of events already well known and heavily featured in the mainstream media.

He Named Me Malala is a beautifully crafted film. It breathes new life to a well-known topic and allows the world to see or at least get a glimpse of the many facets of this world leader.

He Named Me Malala ends with Malala addressing the United Nations and the now famous quote, “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

Malala continues to advocate for equal education opportunities. She had her father co-founded the Malala Fund, an organization that focuses on empowering girls though quality secondary education. The dreams of both the father, who wanted to teach, to learn, and to teach and the daughter who only wanted to be allowed to have an equal educational opportunity have come to realization through tragedy.

He Named Me Malala is a must see, a historical documentary, from the Oscar winning director of An Inconvenient Truth. He Named Me Malala is inspirational, encouraging, galvanizing.

He Named Me Malala opens in select cities October 2, 2015 and everywhere the following week, October 9, 2015.

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