When I was watching Osama, I couldn’t help but have some of the same thoughts I had when I was watching Children of Paradise; I suspected it had made the list mostly because of the circumstances in which it was made, and not because it was a particularly amazing film. Sure, it only got added in the 10th edition, so it’s kinda late to the party, but the reasons behind its making (and its addition to the tome) are only more important and resounding now than they were when it was made a decade ago. This is a film, made in Afghanistan, about the Taliban’s regime, and specifically how women are forced to live under it. To say that the film’s making must have been heated is to put it lightly; I wouldn’t be surprised if the filmmakers’ lives were in jeopardy just for trying to make this film.
Osama deals with a young girl, a pre-teen, who lives with her mother and grandmother. The men in their family were all shipped off to war where they were killed, and under the Taliban’s regime, women cannot go about unaccompanied by a man, and they cannot work unless a man is present, which makes the young girl’s family basically crippled in their ability to fend for themselves. Desperate, they decide to cut the young girl’s hair and pass her off as a boy, so that she may work and provide for the family, but of course, this is easier said than done. What I noticed pretty soon after starting Osama was that the film had a story to tell, but seemed unaware of exactly how to tell it. Plot points were skimmed over and barely touched upon, and yet the film continued forward despite its lack of actual narrative building. It seemed that the film was more concerned with the oppressive government that the film takes a microscope to, and portraying the lives of these women under this government, that it has either forgotten or never knew to begin with how to actually tell a story from beginning to end. That, plus the film’s relentless ending, made for a film that just felt structured all wrong, despite how effective it is at what it does want to do.
This one was short, less than an hour and a half, and it really felt truncated as a result. That, added with the film’s inability to hold a proper narrative, meant the film didn’t really succeed as a vehicle for the story. It reminded me a bit of Kandahar, another film that dealt with the reality of female living in the Middle East, and really the two are two sides of the same coin. But, I will give Osama this; it at least does have a narrative, even if it is a disjointed one. There is a pre-story, the main story itself, and then what happens after; it’s just how it gets from each of these to the next that I ran into some trouble with. Seeing as how Kandahar did not make the 10th edition, whereas this one was added instead, was a fact that was not lost on me, and frankly, between the two, I’d pick this one. But only by a little.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10