The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind movie review by a Malawian writer | Malawi 24

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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a 2019 film released on Netflix. The biopic is written, directed by and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor based on William Kamkwamba’s memoir by the same name. Mankhokwe Namusanya shared his thoughts  about the movie on Facebook which we now publish in verbatim.

The Chichewa in ‘The boy who harnessed the wind’ is terrible, atrocious and defeating. An embarrassment. You would actually think the script was translated using Google Translate (and you know how inconvenient that app is to African languages). All the Chichewa spoken by non-Chichewa speakers is something, not the language we know.

Anyone who is busy rallying us to forgo the Chichewa is dishonest. A plunderer. He is ten African politicians rolled into one. That person shouldeven be banished from progressive discourses. Take them back to the reign of Kings, honour killings and glorified cannibalism. Vultures!

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The actors who shine in the movie, and are relatable, are the Malawian Chichewa speakers. Those ones are home, in the movie, in using Chichewa. I am so proud of being Malawian, sharing nationality with such gems. The rest sound like a radio with bad frequency. Their acting looks like what it is: acting. They have been ‘zombified’. Walking as if by remote robotic control. Expressing emotions as if they are a doll, forced to show human emotions. There is never a moment they can move you to tears or joy. They are good actors with a bad job, you can’t really rise to the occasion under such a constraint.

I never knew how much language plays a part in acting (or if I knew then I underestimated).

I don’t want to comment on the storyline, or character development. It is based on a true story. I was not there when the story was happening so I might not be competent enough to offer a commentary, but as a side remark:

“Who is responsible for beatfying saints in the Catholic Church, can’t we do one while they are alive?”

I mean, from the movie, William Kamkwamba does nothing wrong as a human being. He, actually, is not a human being as we know them — or know us.

Granted, he saved his community. He even saved you and me (that’s a hyperbole for you the angry ones with no sense of humour and no knowledge of literature). And, yes, I would be more than happy to be a Bishop for a Church founded in his honour. However, he is a human being and the movie — more because it aimed to be inspirational — should have tapped on that human side to show that: a fellow young human being did this, you can too. Instead, it whitewashes him with Boom, Sunlight and Omo under hell temperature. End result? We have a non-human doing things we humans are supposed to be inspired with.

I am hurt, once again, by a local story. A quasi-local narrative.

The boy who harnessed the wind? No, thanks. Call it ‘The man who harassed Chichewa’ and, in so doing, ruined a production that would have made sense had it been largely told in English or was predominantly acted by Chichewa speakers.


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