Malala Yousafzai’s story is an inspiring and uplifting one, make no mistake. By now, you will probably know her story, of how she defied the oppression of the Taliban in her home of Swat Valley, Pakistan, by speaking out publicly in regards to school education for girls and women, a necessity denied by the Taliban, and how she narrowly survived an attempt on her life. Davis Guggenheim’s documentary He Named Me Malala delves deeper into recent history, into the people who shaped Malala’s life and outlook, and offers us a glimpse into her life, post-attack.
It’s a thorough and insightful film, blending specially shot interviews and archive footage with narration and animation, which not only looks gorgeous, but also sheds much light on the ‘characters’ of the piece – namely, Malala and her father, Ziauddin, who provides much of the film’s heart and soul. The film-makers offer a full-scale look into the life of Malala, now residing in England and embarking on many conferences, talks and political events, all whilst trying to live a normal teenage life.
The interviews with her father and younger siblings provide the film with much of its heart and soul, as do the interviews with Malala herself, who comes across extremely well – likable, passionate and driven in her goal to see real change in the way women across the world are treated.
It’s in no way a preachy film, instead offering something more personal as opposed to simply laying home the message Malala has spent the past few years spreading. Yes, her beliefs and ideals shine throughout, but those come through in a way that feels very natural, as opposed to forced.
Perhaps the film doesn’t delve as deep as it could, but regardless, it’s an excellent insight into the extraordinary story of one of today’s most distinguished public speakers and campaigners.
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