Marina Golbahari, Arif Herati, Zubaida Sahar
MGM Home Entertainment
Date: April 27, 2004
Review posted: July 20, 2004
tragic story of the horrendous and atrocious existence of women
under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan through the eyes of one
young girl (Golbahari). Under the Taliban rules, no women are
allowed on the streets without a male escort, they can be arrested
or worse for working, they are shot for demonstrating against the
Taliban, they are married off at extremely young ages, and they
must always be covered up. Women are treated as second-class
citizens and live in a constant state of fear and oppression.
focuses on one girlís struggle to survive in this oppression. When the
brother and father of this young girl are killed, the girl and her
mother (Sahar) are faced with virtually no way to support themselves.
On the brink of starvation, the mother decides to disguise the young
girl as a boy, calling her Osama (a young beggar aware of this
deception is actually the one to name her), in order for the family to
find any source of income. A local grocer (Herati) who knew the
husband agrees to hire Osama to work in the store and it isnít long
before Osama is forced by the Taliban, with all the other young boys
in the village, into military camp. It is here where the girl must
fight to keep her identity a secret or face the consequences (which
would be most certainly death).
extremely grim and depressing film, it is a very hard film to sit
through, but the images and struggles of these people will stay
with you after the film is over (whether you want them to or
The film provides
the viewer with a strong sense of what everyday life was like for
women under the Taliban rule, and in that sense, it is a success. The
absolutely dreadful way women are treated and forced to live as
second-class citizens is captured powerfully. And yet Osama is
such an utterly depressing experience, with the non-stop barrage of
horrific images that it makes for an almost numbing experience. Even
though this is a very personal journey through the lives of this young
girl and her mother, the emotional impact was almost non-existent.
It may also have to
due with the acting, which was so leaden and sullen that it was
difficult to form any connection to these characters. In particular,
the little girl, who plays Osama, is so withdrawn, dour, and passive
that it was difficult to connect with some of the scenes that focus on
her reactions and emotional connection to these horrible surroundings.
I felt the same way for the woman who plays the mother, as well as
most of the supporting cast. The only character that had some breadth
of emotion and life was that of the grocery store owner. The direction
is quite competent and the director, Barmak, makes great use of color
and composition even though the surroundings are so dank and lifeless.
He manages to find some beauty in this horrible place.
Osama as a study in the everyday life of women under the
oppressive Taliban rule, the film is worthwhile and substantial (and
the images stay with you), but as a moving journey through the
characters of this story, it fails to register emotionally which makes
the film tough to sit through and connect with.
The transfer is
quite good especially considering the fact that the director was
working with an incredibly small budget so the quality of the film
should be of a lower grade. Yet the film looks great, colors are
vibrant, the images are crisp and detailed, and there are almost
no visible image problems.
is presented in Pashtu Stereo Surround audio and the audio quality
is average. I noticed some balancing problems and the dialogue did
sound crisp, it sounded like it was part of the background noise.
But again, the director was working off of virtually no budget so
this would be expected. And since the film is in subtitles, it
wasnít a big problem.
There is only
one extra, a documentary called Sharing Hope and Freedom.
This is an interview with the director, Siddiq Barmak. The doc
is an interesting, thought-provoking and very personal
discussion with the director on the film itself and some
personal stories of life under the Taliban. This is an excellent
extra and it enhances your appreciation for the film.
characters are not very well developed or acted and the overwhelmingly
depressing nature of the film mutes the emotional impact, the horrific
images stay with you and, as a study in the everyday life of these
oppressed people, Osama is an interesting and thought provoking
VERDICT: WORTH A
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