Osama Portrays Horrors of Taliban
by Ari Armstrong, January 12, 2004
The film Osama is nearly unbearable. Its 83 torturous minutes turn time to sludge. Yet it is worth watching as a portrayal of the horrors of life under the Taliban in Afghanistan -- and as a reminder that life in America, despite its many problems, is a wonderful blessing.
The story is of a young girl who is sent out by her family disguised as a boy to try to earn some crumbs. Women who are not supported by a male are destitute, as they are subject to severe persecution. The beginning of the film portrays a group of women walking the streets begging for the right to work -- they are assaulted by the brutal men of the Taliban.
The town where the girl lives is a shithole where abject poverty is rampant. The gang of religious thugs who rule the town are barbarians who oppress the population, slaughter innocents, indoctrinate the male youth as religious fanatics, and make life all but impossible for women. I regard the film as a definitive refutation of multiculturalism. There is nothing redeeming about those evil men or the "culture" they impose.
The film wreaks of despair. The only glimmer of heroism is when a young boy tries to stick up for the girl. His efforts prove utterly futile. She is female, and therefore beyond sympathy or human existence.
I hope that, following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, some flicker of hope has arisen in the towns such as the one where the girl lives. Some sense of self-worth, some spark of independent thinking, some notion that the future need not be as horrific as the past. The elections in that country demonstrate progress, I hope.
The fact that a film was made that criticizes the Taliban is a good sign, even though my American longing for some happiness fought against every frame. The film is not enjoyable, but it is instructive and finely crafted (better made than many American movies). Be sure to catch the 22-minute documentary with the filmmaker, presented on the DVD. At least there you'll get some sense of a better life after the Taliban were justly crushed.