Movie Review: The boy who harnessed the wind

I knew that I wanted to see “The boy who harnessed the wind” when my smart friend gave it a thumbs up.

A 2019 movie, Chiwetel Ejiofor gave an astounding directing, with the casts acting their roles so naturally. Adapted from a memoir, the movie plays out William Kamkwamba (Maxwell Simba) as a young, brilliant chap. A boy who seem to have hacked repairs. This attribute, we see through the scenes. First, we see how he fixed transistor radios for money. Then, he even temporarily solved issues with his schooling.

In this award winning movie, Chiwetel went an extra length to depict the culture and ambience of the Malawian people. One is how he pictured that a huge percentage of Malawian’s agriculture involves Maize plantations. Or how that most households rely on agriculture to feed and pay bills.

The movie relives the effect of famine and how the government’s nonchalance and greed makes it worse. In the movie, even the Gule Wamkulu dancers, who seemed to have so much energy to send off the dead, died from food scarcity. Worse still, the commune became a den for scavengers and thieves trying to live, this time, off of another man’s meagre meal.

Perhaps, the most heart wrenching scene for me is where the old chief was beaten up by government guys. Played by Joseph Marcell, his crime was that he spoke the grievances of his people. To me, it is like he spoke the heart of the African people. Equally, Chiwetel played his part so well, I thought he was Malawian. Born British to Nigerian parents, he had earlier acted in “12 years a slave” and was applauded for his prowess. He played William’s supportive father. Supportive, until hunger and scarcity brought out the anger in him.

William Kamkwamba gave his village (Wimbe) a global recognition. His discoveries which are products of sheer grit, got Wimbe a source of electricity and water. Wimbe had suffered a drought that caused the death of plants and consequently, William’s education. Moreso, his long time friend, the dog Khamba. Through determination however, he found his way into the library where he got his hands on the book “Using Energy”. This book led to his search for a dynamo, may have led to his sister eloping and cost his father’s only bicycle. But was it worth it in the end?

One other reason I watched till the end was because I wanted to see if Agnes (William’s sister) got her chance at a University. The movie is quite predictable, especially if you have read or heard the story previously. However, it yet stands out as intriguing, inspiring, and exemplary. One cannot say, whether the weight of the movie is in the story of William Kamkwamba, or the brilliance with which the movie was directed. But one thing is sure, both features play a role in its wide acceptance. You should see it if you saw Gifted Hands, or if you want something to spur you to innovative thinking. I give it a 9/10.

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