Malala Yousafzai is many things: an activist, a feminist, an educator, a role model, as well as the youngest ever recipient of the Noble Peace Prize.
Malala’s story is one that not enough people know, and needs to be told. That is why it is so disappointing that despite an inspiring story and a subject worthy of her own film, Davis Guggenheim’s “He Named Me Malala” does not give Malala the focus or notice that she deserves.
“He Named Me Malala” documents the life of Malala Yousafzai, a now eighteen-year-old Pakistani girl who has inspired millions throughout the globe.
When Malala was even younger than she is now, the Taliban essentially took control of her home town of Swat, Pakistan. As she grew up, the Taliban banned girls from receiving a formal education and attending school.
Malala chose to speak up against the Taliban with terrifying consequences.
At age fifteen, the Taliban shot Malala in the head in an assassination attempt.
Though she suffered nerve damage, Malala survived and continued to champion for the education of women throughout the world.
Her dedication, courage and maturity have led to Malala having a worldwide following and receiving the Noble Peace Prize at age seventeen. The documentary tells her story and gives audiences a glimpse into her everyday life.
As previously stated, Malala is a fascinating person. She has done so much good with her life already and yet many people seem to not be aware of who she is or why she matters.
The best thing that “He Named Me Malala” does is present her an opportunity to reach a larger audience, particularly in the United States.
Unfortunately, however, Malala also deserves to have her story told with more focus and information than Guggenheim gives her.
Many of Malala’s inspiring deeds are either understudied or entirely left out of the film. It is not until the end of the film that some of her most memorable speeches are shown.
The film dedicates a great deal of time to the fact that she was shot, but does not adequately present why she was shot.
Rather than show all of Malala’s heroic deeds, inspiring speeches and focus on her message, the film glorifies her ordeal, what happened to her and not why it happened.
This proves disappointing, and one cannot help but feel that Malala would not approve.
The film moves along very slowly and tends to jump around far too often, leaving audiences confused and even bored.
There is so much awe inspiring material to work with in regards to Malala’s life, it is curious as to why Guggenheim was either unable to or simply chose not to utilize it.
Guggenheim seems to be content dealing with Malala’s every day family life a great deal. Though flattering to the subject he is portraying, this also distracts from the greater good Malala is attempting to achieve.
“He Named Me Malala” is not an awful movie.
There are several touching moments and one would have to be made of stone not to be moved by what Malala has already accomplished and continues to fight for.
Sadly, however, when considering how surprisingly little attention is devoted to these things and how uneven her story is told,
“He Named Me Malala” plays out as a film about someone whose story deserves to be told, but it deserves to be told much better.