Analysis Of The Documentary He Named Me Malala

One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. The 2015 documentary He Named Me Malala is a mixed documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim. It is about a Pakistani girl; Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out on behalf of female education, she emerges as a leading advocate for children’s rights and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In the documentary He Named Me Malala the director Davis Guggenheim, uses techniques to position the audience to view Malala Yousafzai favourably and privilege the view that education creates empowerment for females in Pakistan.

The various camera shots and angles used in the documentary positions the audience to align with Malala’s views that education is important for females and the idea that it can create empowerment. The use of camera shots and angles determines how the audience perceives the scene. Close up shots are frequently used throughout when Malala is being interviewed and asked questions. Close up shots help to give detail of her personality, thoughts, and feelings. This positions the audience to see things on a more real and personal level and helps to align with her views. Eye-level shots are also commonly used. The camera is positioned so the subject can look directly into the lens and prevent them from moving their eyesight. It is considered to be emotionally neutral and is best used for straight, factual presentation. By using an eye-level shot the words being put across are neutral. The use of long shots shows Malala’s environment such as her home, school, and town that she lives in. Girls are not favoured in Islamic culture, so they don’t educate them. By showing Malala’s school environment it highlights that although she has grown up in a country with Islamic culture where education for females is not accepted, she is an educated young female. It shows that education creates empowerment for females just like Malala.

Voiceover helps to better situate the audience inside the mind of the characters, and therefore more completely draw the audience into the action of the story. The documentary features a voice-over narration by Malala and the persistent centralisation of her voice is important in creating the impression that it is Malala who is telling the story, her story, rather than having it told for her. By making Malala dominant in the documentary, it highlights the power that she has, and this power draws back from the fact that she is educated. Malala is trying to spread a message that education is important. The use of voiceover helps to support this message throughout the documentary by giving her voice the power, the power to create change and achieve great things. The documentary also features narration. Narration is used to tell the story of Malala as a young Pakistani girl who is fighting for education for females. Along the way, she has faced hardships such as being shot in the head by the Taliban. It highlights that through these times she has done courageous things and come out gaining many achievements.

In the opening scene of the documentary, animation is used. The animation tells the story of an Afghan teenager who fights in a battle. This animation is used to symbolise how Malala has faced battles in her life. By using animation, it tells the story in a more simple and understandable way that children can understand. The film starts off will animations being frequently used and then it decreases as it goes on. This shows that Malala is young at the beginning and then she has grown up towards the end. As Malala grows up throughout the documentary, after having been shot in the head we can see her become a bit more mature. She is a confident young girl able to stand up in front of others and tell her story. This reinforces that education is what has made Malala the girl she is today. The technique of animation helps to remove the idea of doubt. If it wasn’t in animation form people would evaluate her and not her story because that’s what people do. We suspend judgement and just listen. Doing this helps to give her story more power and allows it to be heard for what she is saying.

The documentary explores Islamic culture which is the embedded theme throughout and juxtaposes the ideologies of western culture and the radicalised Muslim minority with traditional Islamic ideologies. In the deliberate construction of He Named me Malala, the filmmakers have purposefully used the techniques of camera shots and angles, voiceover and animation to foreground the empowerment that education for females can create and privilege a favourable view of Malala Yousafzai.     

16 December 2021
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