The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind movie review by a Malawian writer

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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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2 Comments

  1. The funny thing is that, we don’t even know who this stupid writer is, if he is better than those people who acted that movie, why is it that we don’t know him /her? He is just one of the empty headed stupid jealous frools whose parents did not teach how to appreciate things!!

  2. Originally the script was in English, that was the plan but the director thought it wise to put in Chichewa. To say the truth the guys did a great job and I am not saying this because I am in the cast but honestly they had short time learning a language, you know how difficult it is to learn a fluency of a language, but they tried and we can hear what they are saying.

    Casting: they just can’t cast an actor just because the actor knows how to speak a language proper or knows how to do something, an actor is casted if he/she fits a role, have physic matching the role, the rest like language or fights or hobbies can be learnt later. Being a Hollywood film, they can’t just cast anyone, they also had to consider the market side, Malawi does not have known actors who can market a Hollywood film yet, so I doubt a main actor can come from here but now with the platform offered by Netflix, now a main can come from here because our country has been displayed to the world, now they know of actors in Malawi.

    And let me tell you something guys, before they settled on the characters to take part, they had done auditions in Malawi, Kenya, South Africa, the UK and USA, after that’s they then started casting. Malawi had a chance of producing the main actor but no one on those auditioned was fitting the role, and was found in Kenya. But Malawi still produced some main actors as well like Lily and Philbert, because they fitted their roles and other actors casted from Malawi as well.

    So I agree about the Chichewa but we must also understand that the movie consisted of Different actors from different countries, lucky for the Malawians as it was their language but for the rest who had to learn a language at the same time keep their character and lines intact had a big job to do and they tried their best and I applaud them.

    Everyone is talking about the film, that’s a great thing, Malawi movie industry is on the map, that’s a thing to be proud about. The people all over the world have accepted and applauded the film and let us as malawians understand and be happy.

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