The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: A Review
“Before I discovered miracles of science, magic ruled the world.”
Are you into heart-wrenching, tear-jerking yet inspiring story? Then you’re in for a treat. Make sure to prepare your tissues. Disclaimer: if you are easily affected emotionally or going through something and don’t want to be distressed, you might want to reconsider.
The Story: Synopsis, Settings and Plot
The movie is entitled The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a British drama based on a true story. It was written and directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor and was shown in 2019. It became available in multiple territories on Netflix on the same year.
The story took place in a poor village in Kasungu,Malawi. The main character, whose true story was depicted, is Will Kamkwamba (Maxwell Simba). He’s a young schoolboy who came from a family of farmers. He know how to fix radios. He spends his free time at the local junkyard and try to salvage or built anything from scraps. Due to the inability to pay the fees, he was kicked out of school.
But because he knew that his Science teacher was secretly seeing his sister, he used it to persuade the teacher to let him use the school library. He was interested in the electrical engineering and energy production. He was caught one day and was banned from using it again.
in the mid-2000s, the drought was terrible and it caused famine in the village. The people were forced to sell their trees and moved somewhere else. Will’s family remained in the village but due to the absence of tress, their lands were flooded giving very poor harvest.. Due to political unrest, their lives became even worse than it already is. Their meager harvest from the past season was robbed and government rations weren’t enough. His sister then eloped with the teacher to have ‘one less mouth to feed’.
With the desire to help his village, Will tried to built a windmill to power an electric pump in order to supply water to the dried farmlands. He made a prototype to show that it’s possible to do so. However, in order to built a bigger one, it requires a dynamo and the only one available is on his father’s bicycle. He asked his father’s permission to dismantle the bicycle, but since it’s their only valuable asset, his father was angered and destroyed the prototype.
Will’s pet dog died of starvation and he was totally disheartened. His mother then intervened. His father finally gave in. Will and the other villagers built a huge turbine. They successfully built and powered the pump through a windmill and was able to plant despite the absence of rain.
Will was then offered a scholarship and finally received a degree in Dartmouth College. His windmill became popular and it led him to deliver a speech at TED talk.
Theme, Conflicts and Symbols
The story depicted multiple issues. First is poverty. It showed that there are still areas and places left behind, particularly agricultural areas and are barely self-sufficient. Second is the political upheaval. The first and the second come hand-in-hand. Due to political unrest, the major issues such as poverty are not addressed. And due to poverty, formal education becomes an expensive commodity and so the vicious cycle goes on and on.
But despite all the hardships, there’s still hope. But hope will remain just a concept without action. In this case, the practical use of science became the embodiment of that hope.
One thing that the movie failed to explain was he presence of Spirit dancers every time someone dies. They were masked dancers that were said to be able to bewitch children and people who watch them for too long. However, they appeared quite a few times in the movie but seemed to be irrelevant.
Language, Effects and Acting
The movie mainly used Chichewa, the language commonly spoken in Malawi so subtitles were needed. The acting was powerful all-throughout although some scenes were way too forced to be dramatic. It’s heavy and distressful most of the time. It was only redeemed by the ending. But the use of the local language was an interesting take. It added flavor to the flow of the story, and although it’s difficult to understand the language itself, one can guess based on the acting and expressions of the actors.
Necessity is the mother of invention indeed! Telephones were invented to ease communication. It was a breakthrough as compared to the recent inventions. Unlike this world we’re living in, technology is evolving at a very high speed but for what purpose? A better camera, better audio quality, bigger storage – do they address social and political issues such as poverty, discrimination, climate change among others?
The story shows that if one thing becomes imperative and there’s will to make it happen, it will happen. Formal or informal education plays a big role. If Will wasn’t curious enough and observant enough about the mechanisms of objects as simple as a bicycle, will his village been saved?
Education is important. It doesn’t mean a college degree or post-graduate titles. it is about giving the people equal access to information and letting them try to realize their visions.
Yet the movie also shows inequality and that politics is not always helpful. The powerful take advantage over the weak. Due to empty stomachs, many people are forced to take the bait, leaving them even poorer and more powerless than before. The economic disparity is present anywhere in the world.
Nevertheless, the movie is a good source of inspiration. Younger people can learn that education is important and that poverty isn’t a hindrance to dream and build. It is never too early nor too late to learn a thing or two.