Rent Wadjda (2012)

3.8 of 5 from 415 ratings
1h 33min
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'Wadjda' is the story of a young Saudi girl whose burning desire for a bicycle leads her into bold defiance of her society's restrictive codes of gender and religion. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn't be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. But Wadjda's mother won't allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl's virtue. Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself. Although her cunning plans are continuously thwarted, she is determined to continue fighting for her dreams...
Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Abdullrahman Al Gohani, , Sultan Al Assaf, Alanoud Sajini, Rafa Al Sanea, Dana Abdullilah, Rehab Ahmed, Nouf Saad, Ibrahim Almozael, Mohammed Zahir, Sara Aljaber, Noura Faisal, Talal Loay, Fawziah Alyaaqop, Dima Sajini, Maram Alkhozaim, Mariam Alkhozaim, Rawan Abdulsalam
Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul
Haifaa Al-Mansour
Soda Pictures
Children & Family, Comedy, Drama
Saudi Arabia, Top 100 Films, Children & Family, Comedy, Drama
Release Date:
Run Time:
93 minutes
English, English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.85:1
  • Women Without Shadows (directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, 2006, 45-mins)
  • The Making Of Wadjda (30 mins)
Release Date:
Run Time:
97 minutes
  • Women Without Shadows (Directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, 2006, 45-mins)
  • The Making Of 'Wadjda' (30 mins)

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Reviews (3) of Wadjda

Excellent groundbreaking cinema - Wadjda review by GF

Spoiler Alert

The first feature length film to be made in Saudi Arabia, this is a remarkable film not just for that, but for the fact that it was directed by a woman in a country where female presence in almost all walks of life is illegal.

Ostensibley a coming of age story about a schoolgirl who wants to ride a bike ( which is taboo there), it deals with subjects much deeper and sometimes darker.

However this is far from a depressing film - it is uplifting, often funny, sometimes moving, and certainly never dull.

One of last year's great films and certainly one of its' most unique and courageous.

5 out of 6 members found this review helpful.

Enchanting - Wadjda review by NR

Spoiler Alert

A remarkable film, not just for its groundbreaking nature and the importance of the issues raised, but for the enchanting tone which encompasses it. Delightful.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Girl On A Bike. - Wadjda review by NC

Spoiler Alert

Wadjda has no time for all that religious nonsense. While other girls are learning the Koran by heart, she is more interested in listening to pop music, and saving up for a green bicycle she has set her heart on. She wears trainers instead of black shoes, and is constantly told to cover her face.

This is Saudi Arabia, where double standards permeate the air like oxygen, and are inhaled from birth. She is told not to sing too loud, as men might hear - yet she is assailed by men working on a building site to 'show us your little apples'. Family trees consist of male names only. Girls are married off while still at school, but can be cast away if they cannot bear children (males, that is, females don't count). Every decision a woman makes is conditioned by how it will affect a man. Step out of line and the religious police may come calling.

When Wadjda learns that the prize money for a Koran reading competition is more than enough for the coveted bike, her determination to win has nothing to do with the religious zeal her teachers think she has found.

In a world where women are not allowed to drive, where they are at the whim of crochetty private drivers, or spend hours on the bus, or simply have to ring work to say they can't make it in, a girl on a bicycle is an extraordinarily powerful symbol. Haifaa Al-Mansour's debut film is also the first feature length film by a female Saudi, and the first shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. All these 'firsts' make it remarkable enough. For it to be next door to a masterpiece makes it miraculous. Performances from the children and adults are peerless. The scenes with Wadjda and her friend Abdullah are incredibly beautiful. Hollywood would have lush music, limpid eyes and soppy words here. It's the difference between plonking fingers down on a keyboard, and listening to Vladimir Horowitz.

The film ends gloriously.Which way next for Wadjda on the long road to freedom?

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Critic review

Wadjda review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso

Saudi Arabian girl Wadjda (Reem Mohammed) is like any ten-year-old girl, her must fervent wish to own a bicycle so that she may cycle around with her friends; however, the culture of her largely Muslim country view women cycling as vulgar and even dangerous and as a past time it is very much frowned upon, though not explicitly forbidden. Wadjda, determined to join her male friend on his two wheeled adventure takes it upon herself to raise the money to purchase the bike without help from her smothering culture.

Wadjda’s mother, a traditional Muslim woman, refuses to buy Wadjda a bicycle so the girl begins her entrepreneurial exploits by selling hand-made bracelets to her schoolmates, however even this is thought of us unseemly and she is forbidden to continue. When a cash prize is offered for a Quoran recital competition Wadjda enters despite having little interest in religion herself.

Opening with scenes of a young girl dancing around her room to a cassette tape playing what most Western pre-teens would refer to as retro, or just plain “old”, pop songs Wadjda is a film that aims to shock it’s audience and raise many cultural and sociological questions. The sight of the beautiful young girl freely expressing herself to the outdated rhythm of her music comes in stark contrast when, only a few moments later, she is seen leaving her house fully covered in the clothes of Muslim humility.

Though there may be few scenes that openly antagonize audiences, there is certainly plenty in Wadjda to fan the fires of impotent revolution that lurk beneath the surface of our clashing cultures; what I found myself thinking on more than one occasion was how strikingly different my own childhood and those of my loved ones would have been without the freedom of something as simple as a bicycle – a form of transport many of us take for granted but that here is lifted up though it were a chariot sent straight from heaven.

The contrast between our cultures is deepened when one learns a little more about the film and the country in which is both set and made, where cinemas are still banned and girls Wadjda’s age and younger have been targeted by extremists for their public outspokenness in such a male dominated society.

If all of this weren’t enough to at least raise your interest in the film for its cultural and political significance then I strongly urge viewers to watch it for the strength of performances and the emotional tangibility of the story. Mohammed is fantastic as the lead, her performance marking one of the best from child actors that I have ever seen; she is both likeable and believable, her independence, guile and intelligence causing her to shine in every scene. Whilst the way in which the film makers have balanced serious world issues with the rather tongue in cheek comedic tone that underlines the entire piece makes Wadjda a pleasurable watch above all else.

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