“Wadjda” by Haifaa Al Mansour

This article is also available in: Italiano

Wadjda is the first film by Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour who introduces us to the society of his country with a story that seems trivial but it is not.


The original title of the film is named after the protagonist, a young girl from Riyadh with a dream: to buy a green bicycle in order to beat Abdullah, the neighbor’s son. The problem is that in rigid Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive a car, let alone pedal a bicycle. Wadjda, however, is determined and will take advantage of the opportunity of a Koranic race to win 1000 riyals and buy the much desired bike.

Wadjda and Abdullah

Saudi society today

The director shows a non-trivial ability to use a small trick to show the reality of her country without fear of censorship or anything else. The film always shows us the story of Wajda but at the same time constantly highlights the problems of Saudi society. However, the skill lies in being able not to cannibalize the story that always remains in the foreground.


There is no real attempt to create scandal and in this way it manages to better involve the viewer in this reality, so particular and distant even from that of other Arab countries. In fact, in the film we are given a brief glimpse of everything: family relationships, with immigrants, girls’ schools and even a very brief hint of politics. Obviously there is not even the decidedly strong relationship between state and religion, omnipresent in the film but also in reality.

A good film

The film is an excellent test of the director (recently in theaters with Mary Shelley) and a clean and real fresco of her country. The story also, in its simplicity, works and casting also has a lot to say. Waad Mohamed in particular plays his part perfectly, always being realistic and never overdoing it. “The green bicycle” is one of those films recommended to all but which shows different levels of understanding, making it suitable also for debates or reflections. A magnificent start.

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Waad Mohamed is Wadjda

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