He Named Me Malala


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

He Named Me Malala
"Her energy is remarkable and what this film shows is the humility, intelligence and bravery of a girl lucky to be alive"

Whatever you think you know about Malala it is not enough. People throw words like "courage" into the wind as if this explains the actions of a teenage survivor of assassination who went back into the snake pit to change the minds of those who remain silent.

What Davis Guggenheim's film does is demonstrate without sentimentality the truth about this Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban and flown to the UK where doctors saved her eyes, her mind and her life.

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"If I had stayed in Pakistan," she says, "I would have had two children by now."

She lives in England with her parents and brothers and has to do homework like everyone else, no special treatment for this Nobel prize winner, no star status in a Birmingham comprehensive.

Her father was a teacher before the Taliban issued a decree that no girl be allowed an education, after which 400 schools were bombed to rubble.

The horror is other worldly, like that of Isis. Are we living in the same century? For Malala and her father, who comes across as a man of deep conviction and empathy, it is very much the here and the near.

"I miss the dirty streets," she says. "I miss my friends."

Education gives children "the power to question things." Ignorance is not bliss, it is slavery.

Malala is not like others. She could have remained in the shadows and taken advantage of Britain's multicultural democracy, stayed safe. Instead she travelled widely, gave speeches and pleaded with those in positions of power to make changes and bring hope to the helpless.

Her energy is remarkable and what this film shows is the humility, intelligence and bravery of a girl lucky to be alive. Guggenheim uses animation to tell the back story and Malala's personality to illuminated the front.

For her it is simple: "If I remain silent I lose the right to life." For the rest of us it is a privilege to be allowed so close.

Watch a featurette with the director below:

Reviewed on: 29 Oct 2015
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He Named Me Malala packshot
Documentary about events that led to the Taliban attack on Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai and the aftermath.
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Director: Davis Guggenheim

Starring: Malala Yousafzai, Ziauddin Yousafzai, Toor Pekai Yousafzai, Khushal Yousafzai, Atal Yousafzai

Year: 2015

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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