Beyond the Canon: Wadjda + Alice inside Cities

the idea can be no secret which the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. Beyond the Canon can be a monthly series which seeks to question which history in addition to broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic which has a thematically or stylistically-related—in addition to equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded through which discussion. This kind of month’s double feature pairs Haifaa al-Mansour’s Wadjda (2012) with Wim Wenders’ Alice inside Cities (1974).

By Simran Hans

The bicycle can be Christmas tree–green in addition to shiny, its ribbon-festooned handlebars wrapped in brand-new-toy plastic. the idea can be the bike of 10-year-old Wadjda’s (Waad Mohammed) daydreams, so perfect the idea’s as though she wished the idea into existence. the idea appears like a dream, too, seeming to cycle itself along a brick wall. The bike, the idea turns out, can be being carried by a truck; the idea’s not a magic trick after all. She follows the bike to find the idea for sale, priced at a very real 800 riyal.

inside kingdom of Saudi Arabia, little girls weren’t allowed to ride bikes until 2013 (the ban was lifted a year after Wadjda’s Discharge). Still, Wadjda imagines herself cycling, racing her best friend, a little boy named Abdullah (Abdullrahman Al Gohani), in addition to winning. In writer-director Haifaa al-Mansour’s 2012 fiction debut, the entrepreneurial Wadjda’s get-rich-quick schemes to purchase the bike include selling hand-braided bracelets in addition to delivering notes at school, nevertheless when she sees which a Quran recital competition features a prize of 1000 riyal, she signs up for “religious club.” This kind of little girl can be taking matters into her own hands.


The little girl in Wim Wenders’ 1974 road movie Alice inside Cities can be a little younger than Wadjda. We meet 9-year-old Alice (Yella Rottländer) inside revolving door of an airport. She chases the film’s protagonist, German journalist Philip Winter (Rüdiger Vogler), in playful circles, foreshadowing the rings she will run around him inside coming days. Shortly after This kind of meeting, her mother, Lisa (Lisa Kreuzer), leaves her in Philip’s charge as the three journey separately through brand-new York back to West Germany, via Amsterdam. the idea can be Alice who will lead them to her grandmother’s house in Wuppertal, telling her driver “When I see the idea, I will know.” Alice thinks she can be in charge, too.

Al-Mansour can be particularly interested in those who seize their own destinies; she tells stories about rebellious young women in addition to their attempts to liberate themselves through their conservative environments. At the time of its Discharge, Wadjda was widely praised for breaking brand-new ground; the idea can be the first feature to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, in addition to the first feature-length Saudi film to be directed by a woman. Al-Mansour had to direct all outside scenes through within a van, communicating with her crew via a monitor in addition to a walkie-talkie. Her next feature, The Perfect Candidate, which will premiere at the Venice International Film Festival next month, can be a comedy-drama about a Saudi woman who runs for office in a local election.


If Al-Mansour can be obsessed with those constricted by society, Wenders might be described as training his eye on those who choose to leave the idea behind. Both filmmakers are drawn to characters who seem out of step with their surroundings. In Alice, the idea’s Winter who doesn’t fit, a tourist in America, the polaroid camera which hangs around his neck a buffer between him in addition to the planet. In Al-Mansour’s, the idea’s Wadjda who can be the outsider, wide shots often depict her alone, the sole figure in shot. Yet though Wadjda’s separateness can be visually emphasised, her expression remains hopeful. Speaking to NPR, Al-Mansour emphasised which while many films about the Middle East depict its horrors, the idea was important to her “to make a film which can be happy.”

A bike would likely allow Wadjda to participate inside games through which she’s otherwise been excluded. Indeed, the idea’s no coincidence which Al-Mansour chooses the bicycle as Wadjda’s totem. This kind of, along with her use of real locations, non-professional actors, in addition to a child protagonist who bears witness to the problems of the present day, means Wadjda both recalls in addition to references Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 neorealist classic Bicycle Thieves, another film which invests symbolic power in addition to the promise of social mobility inside bicycle.

Alice inside Cities

“Children have a sort of admonitory function in my films: to remind you [which] with curiosity in addition to lack of prejudice the idea can be possible to look at the planet,” said Wenders in his 2001 essay in addition to interview collection On Film. Wadjda, like Alice, performs This kind of function. The patriarchal culture which governs Wadjda’s world doesn’t make sense to her. Her brow crinkles with confusion when an old man catcalls her inside street; her jaw visibly drops when her teacher reveals her pre-arranged plan for the prize money. “in addition to if you disagree over anything, refer the idea to Allah in addition to the messenger,” mumbles Wadjda, without conviction, unable to speak words she doesn’t believe.

Join us for Beyond the Canon on Sat, Aug 31 at 2pm.

Simran Hans can be a writer in addition to film critic for The Observer. She lives in London.

Upcoming Beyond the Canon screening:

Sat, Sep 14 at 2pm
Invisible Adversaries
Dir. Valie Export
1977, 109min
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Dir. Philip Kaufman
1978, 115min, 35mm

Images of Wadjda (2012) courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics in addition to Alice inside Cities (1974) courtesy of Janus Films/Photofest.
© 2019 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

Beyond the Canon: Wadjda + Alice inside Cities

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