Review: 'He Named Me Malala' is the Inspiring Story of a Hero

Ben Zacuto ’19/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Malala Yousafzai in He Named Me Malala. Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight.
With the summer blockbuster season at its end, many might expect that the superhero movie season is, too. Publicity told viewers to expect three superhero films this year: the fun and entertaining Marvel contributions Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, as well as the return of the Fantastic Four. However, a little documentary entitled He Named Me Malala has continued the superhero season well into the beginning of October, profiling the contributions of one of the mightiest heroes of the twenty-first century, Malala Yousafzai. Malala, at just eighteen years old, has achieved more in her first two decades of life than many could even dream of. He Named Me Malala documents the journey that Malala Yousafzai has taken while acting out against the oppressive Pakistani government to advocate for girls education. Among her many other accomplishments, Malala is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate in history. He Named Me Malala, told by Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for ‘Superman’), does an exquisite job of not only furthering Malalas message to the world, but also in depicting Malala and the girls she advocates for as relatable.
Malala is a superhero in every sense of the word. She is strong-willed, brave, compassionate, and, above all, a fighter. Malala, a victim of terrorism, has overcome great odds to advocate for her friends back in Pakistan. While Malala was on her way home from school in a bus with some of her closest friends, a masked Taliban gunman shot her three times, hitting her neck, shoulder, and the left side of her face. After being flown into Birmingham, England to receive medical treatment, she had to relearn, among several basic skills, how to walk and talk. However, in trying to destroy the life that Malala had, the Taliban created an even stronger enemy than they could have ever imagined. Malala no longer has any fear of what may happen to her while advocating for the rights of women. She has become braver than anyone could have dreamed, and she uses her fiery spirit to enlighten the lives of those who have the privilege of meeting her.
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Ziauddin Yousafzai and Malala Yousafzai in He Named Me Malala. Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight.
He Named Me Malala does what few films have been able to accomplish, putting a spotlight on the lives of the true victims in the fight against Islamic terrorist groups the people of the Middle East. One standout attribute of the film that grounds the struggle Pakistanis face is the use of animation. Director Guggenheim uses animated sequences, resembling dreamlike abstract art, to visually portray the memories of both Malala and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai. These stories, told through the dreamlike images, add weight to their memories of Malalahometown in Pakistan. The drawings of Malala and Ziauddins reflections are perfectly dotted throughout the film, propelling the story further with a visually unique approach. Also notable is Thomas Newmans score, which gives the story added dimension without being distracting. He Named Me Malala is a socially relevant documentary that proves Noble Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai has only just begun her journey of making our world a better place.
Overall Grade: A
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