He Named Me Malala Review

 <strong> Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. </srong> wikipedia.org
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. wikipedia.org

From distinguished director Phillip Davis Guggenheim comes the film “He Named Me Malala,” the story of a young Pakistani girl attacked by Taliban fighters for seeking an education.


The documentary details the life and family of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. The movie objectively illustrates the events leading up to and following her attempted assassination by religious extremists.


A lover of learning from a young age and daughter of Ziauddin Yousafzai, a Pakistani diplomat and outspoken supporter of women’s rights, it’s clear that Malala won’t adhere to traditional female roles in Pakistani culture. To her family’s dismay, the Taliban moved into their valley and began to implement conservative Islamic policies when she was a young girl.


When the Taliban began to preach the adoption of fundamentalist Islamic law into society, they targeted women’s education and established new dress codes. While most were too frightened of violent retribution to condemn the Taliban’s policies even in private, Malala and her father became public opponents. They claimed that the Taliban had hijacked Islam and were using it for political means and advocated their destruction. They continued despite numerous death threats and acts of intimidation.


As a result of her opposition, Malala was shot in the head on her way home from school Oct. 9, 2012. Although she has recovered and is enrolled in school in England and also travels the world advocating for women’s education, permanent nerve and muscle damage has been done to her face.


The movie expertly navigates the sensitive material, giving the subjects an opportunity to tell their story from a first-hand perspective. The audience encounters a highly intelligent girl, ripe with ambition and kindness and supported by a loving, devoted family.


The audience is also given an inside look at Malala’s personal life.  Viewers encounter a surprisingly well-adjusted and stereotypical teenage girl, coyly fawning over male celebrities and stressing about high school exams.


Beautiful animation elegantly depicts flashbacks of the family’s experiences in Pakistan and adds a stylistic, colorful element to the film.


While devoid of anything particularly groundbreaking in the way of filmmaking, “He Named Me Malala” tells a richly descriptive account of Malala’s life and sends a clear message of hope to victims of human rights violations everywhere.

4/5 stars