He Named Me Malala

October 9, 2015155 min

“ One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world” In 2012 as a young girl boarded a bus in northwest Pakistan, a gunman asked for her by name and then fired three shots. One of those bullets struck the young girl in the head and traveled to her shoulder. The reason for the attack was because the girl had dared to speak out for education rights for girls. Those three shots were heard around the world, and instead of silencing the girl; they gave her a louder voice and introduced the world to Malala.

Outraged at the brutality of the act, the world was in shock, and rallied around this girl who would stand up for what she believed was her right no matter who tried to silence her. As she recovered and her family moved to England, the world wanted to hear her story, and find out who Malala is. The first thing to know is her father named her after a Pashtun woman who encouraged the Afghan forces during the 1880 Battle of Maiwand against the British. It is not the name that made Malala the outspoken activist that she is, but her simple belief that everyone deserves an education. With “He Named Me Malala” we get to watch Malala before the attack, and after, which includes her speech to the United Nations.

Malala’s story is incredible and deserves to be told. Watching the story of someone who stands up for what they believe in no matter what the odds are against them should be celebrated. While the story deserves the praise, the documentary comes off just as average. Director Davis Guggenheim seems to milk all he can from the subject, and tries to use animation sequences to lift up the story. While is works some of the time, most of the time the animation feels over used. Add the choice for the score, and you have moments that might put you into a relaxed state of mind. There are parts that will have your full attention, but more often than not there is just not enough there to keep you totally interested. Malala’s story of her survival and of her becoming a voice for equal rights is amazing. Where the film has its problems is while her story of what happened is incredible, Malala herself, is just a normal girl, and for the most part really not that interesting. That is not a knock on her, just an observation, but it is a hard hurdle for the film to overcome. This is a wonderful story, but the story about a regular life nonetheless. I will not tell you to not see this film, because you should, to hear what this girl did and went though is worth it. While parts of the story are great, as a documentary the end product is just average.

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