Monday, July 11, 2005


Today, in my higher-level class, I showed a movie. I had intended to show a different movie - something light - but yesterday I started to watch Kandahar, which I've had for at least a year, but only had time to see the first ten minutes or so. I wanted to see the rest, and decided that since the class had only five students, one of whom wants to be a journalist and another an aid worker, it might work.

It did. They were riveted. I felt a little guilty because a lot of the movie was not in English, but the subtitles were in English, and were not too fast for them so it was still 'English class,' sort of. And I stopped the movie now and again when students had questions.

I would be very interested to hear what others who have seen the film think of the boy, Khak. Did he deliberately mess up his recital at the religious school, so that he would be kicked out, or was he just a bad student? And was he really untrustworthy? I wasn't sure, and neither were the students.

Kandahar is a stunningly beautiful film, and has scenes in it that made us all think. The students were particularly impressed by the woman who applied her lipstick under her burka. You do not get to see her face, as she would not (or could not) uncover it, but she was determined to wear the lipstick anyway. My students wondered about the strange contradiction this involved. The whole point of lipstick is that it is seen, but this lipstick would never be seen, so why was she wearing it? What did it mean?

I've been thinking about this tonight, and I think the lipstick was for the woman herself, not for others. It was an act of self-definition. It was a way for her to remind herself, Inside my prison I may not be seen, but I am still a human being. I am not faceless. I am not invisible. I am a woman.

There are other images from this film that will stick with me for a long time (the amputees chasing down the parachuted artificial legs!), but I think the most lasting impression, for me, will be of the invisible women.

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doris said...

I've not seen this film but will look out for it now.

It is interesting that you use the term of 'prison' for the burqa because I have heard it described by women who wear it that it is actually 'freeing'. Of course that is an opinion. But I agree it is a curiosity of wearing lipstick that would not be seen whilst the burqa is on.

Badaunt said...

There's an interview with Nelofer Pazira where she talks about the experience of wearing burka for the film:

(The part about the burka is about halfway down the page.)

It's worth reading, especially about why women didn't just throw them away after Kabul was liberated. The most effective prisons are the ones we place ourselves in...

Cheryl said...

I'd forgotten that one!
The bit that sticks in my memory is the end I think, when they get caught hiding amongst the wedding party?
Oh, and talking to the doctor through a hole in a blanket because he wasnt allowed to see the women he treated.
I want to see it again now.