Monday, November 21, 2011

Meltingpot Movie Review: Desert Flower

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

How many of you know the name Waris Dirie? Do you know why she is famous? Admittedly, I didn't either until watching the movie, Desert Flower which is based on her life story.

To some, Dirie is the famous Somali supermodel, discovered mopping floors at a McDonald's in London, but her fame and influence go much deeper than that. While her rags to riches story from child of a nomadic clan in eastern Somalia to world-famous supermodel and actress is fascinating to behold, it's what she does with her fame and influence that is truly inspiring.

As a 'victim' of female genital circumcision, Dirie was plagued with illness and pain her entire life. (Dear Lord, I'm making it sound like she's dead. She's not. She's very much alive.) After achieving a level of fame and fortune in Europe and the United States, she used her platform to speak out against the practice and to bring worldwide attention to the plight of so many women around the world who suffer and die because of the belief that a woman is unclean with her lady parts intact. Dirie eventually became a UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation and set up her own foundation, the Desert Flower Foundation.

Which brings me back to the movie, Desert Flower. Of course, I picked up the DVD at my local library, but the film had already been on my radar. It wasn't just the pretty yellow cover that caught my eye.  Now that you know Dirie's story, you're probably intrigued about the film, but is it worth watching, you wonder? Yes!  Waris is played by Ethiopian supermodel, Liya Kebede and she brings such an innocence and physical beauty to the role, I was enraptured at first sight of her on the screen.

Actually, the whole film is beautiful, from the first shots in "Somalia" (I'm not sure if they were actually filming in Somalia) to the brief glimpses of haute couture on the catwalk. And while you already know the "ending," there's still enough suspense and cliff hangers to keep this from being just another movie of the week. What's more, Dirie's 'happy ending' story is simply a wonderful catalyst to open the discussion about the role of women and their perpetual subjugation the world over.

All told, I really enjoyed the film and recommend it as both entertainment and education. If you want to know more about Dirie's life and work, visit her foundation website, Desert Flower and this website which details the many subsequent books, films and projects Dirie has been involved in over the years. It is impressive. For now, check out the trailer.



Ola said...

I had heard about this film in passing and initially thought it was a documentary. Thanks for the review!

LT said...

I hope you like it!

Anonymous said...

I have not seen Desert Flower yet but I learned about her story from the Amel Larrieux song 'Bravebird'. I've read a lot about her, but I definitely want to see the film.

Anonymous said...

I read the book first and was so intrigued that I watched the movie. The book is better (as always), I would recommend it.

soy yo said...

I work with Somali underaged unaccompanied asylum seekers. I hear from other staff that they took the kids to this movie at some point.

One boy said that after seeing it, he would not have his daughters circumcised. I hope he remembers that when the time comes, especially if there is pressure to do it.

The girls there never commented and I think the topic makes them feel really uncomfortable, at least when faced with addressing the issue with westerners.

As for me, I have the book on hold at the library. It is very popular, I have already been waiting months!

LT said...

I'm going to look for that song. How cool!

I want to read the book too.

Soy Yo,
How interesting to hear how one movie can serve as a catalyst for change. Thanks for sharing.