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Wüstenblume [Alemania] [Blu-ray]
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Waris wächst in der Wüste Afrikas im ständigen Kampf um das tägliche Überleben auf. Als sie mit 13 Jahren zwangsverheiratet werden soll, flieht sie. Sie irrt tagelang durch die Wüste, bis sie schließlich die somalische Hauptstadt Mogadischu erreicht. Die Familie ihrer Mutter nimmt sie schützend auf und verschafft ihr eine Stellung als Dienstmädchen in der somalischen Botschaft in London - wo sie jahrelang das Haus nicht verlassen darf. Als ihr ein paar Jahre später die Rückkehr nach Somalia droht, flieht Waris wieder. Sie taucht in der Metropole unter und hält sich mit Gelegenheitsjobs über Wasser. In der quirligen Verkäuferin und Lebenskünstlerin Marilyn findet sie eine Freundin und Vertraute. Doch dann wird sie von Donaldson entdeckt... und ein Märchen wird wahr. Die Designer reißen sich um das Nomadenmädchen, welches den Weg aus der Wüste auf die berühmtesten Laufstege gefunden hat.
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While I think it's important to avoid the distinction between scenes containing intense content and scenes that are actually high-caliber, Desert Flower's strongest moments are indeed its bleakest. The scenes that will remain in the memory long after the film concludes are those dealing with Waris' circumcision, particularly an excruciating sequence in which we watch her 3-year-old face as the procedure is performed. It's an angry, damning indictment of a barbaric process. Another painful yet tender moment occurs between Kebede and Hawkins, as the latter begins to realize what has been done to the former. These are scenes that tower above some of tiresome trivialities the film engages in during its weaker moments.
So, the subject matter is there and the cast delivers. What Desert Flower needed was a steadier hand at the wheel.
Desert Flower arrives on hi-def sporting a very attractive 1080p/1.85:1 transfer. The level of detail is spectacular throughout, flesh tones are warm and natural and the film's barren African locations look visually stunning and yet forbidding (the London locations are a bit less striking, but the marvelously expressive faces of actors like Spall and Hawkins are enough to compensate for that). Audio is equally excellent, with clean dialogue, immersive sound design and a well-mixed but occasionally overbearing original score. An early scene in a nightclub will give your speakers quite a workout, but it's noticeably louder than anything else in the film. Supplements include an interview with Kebede (17 minutes) and a trailer.
-Full review at [...]
Waris Dirie was born in a family of nomads in Somalia, probably in 1965. At the age of 3 she was victim of female genital mutilation (FGM) a barbarian practice still widespread in many countries in Northern and Eastern Africa. At age 13 she was given in marriage to a 60 years old neighbor - refusing this match she escaped and walked for nine days through the desert until she reached the house of her grandmother in Mogadishu. Rejected by her parents, she was ultimately send as a maid (in fact a slave) for the family of a Somali diplomat living in London. Very badly treated and working only for food, shelter and some old clothes she spend there six years almost never leaving the embassy and not even allowed to watch TV. When in 1985 the family she worked for had to leave Great Britain, she stayed behind, as homeless illegal immigrant. She finally managed to find a janitorial job in a McDonalds and it was there than in 1986 a famous photograph Terence Donovan discovered her, when she was cleaning the floor next to his table...
What followed was a great career of top model, a couple of small movie roles (including in a James Bond movie), the writing of a bestselling autobiography and finally the launching of the first worldwide campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM), a barbarian custom NOT LINKED with any religion, which probably originated in Ancient Egypt at least 3000 years ago, long before the appearance of both Christianism and Islam (and maybe even predating Judaism). This horror is still practiced today in at least 28 states, most of them situated in Northern and Eastern Africa but also in Yemen and Indonesia. Waris Dirie campaign helped however to start a movement towards the decline and disappearance of FGM.
Today, retired from modelling, mother of two sons, Waris Dirie lives most of the time in Austria and still fights against FGM.
"Desert flower" is a very well done, very realistic and very touching story of her life. Although ultimately very optimistic, this film contains also some scenes which I found harder to watch than most of the horror movies I ever saw... Brace yourself for very hard moments.
In this film the main role is played by an Ethopian top model/actress, Liya Kebede, and she does an excellent job! A child actress, Soraya Omar Scego, plays Waris when she was 13 - and she is even more amazing!
I watched this film with fascination and I was greatly touched by it. I recommend it warmly and I really believe it should be more known around the world.
Liya Kebede stars as Waris Darie and is the perfect choice of an actress to fill this role: she is an International supermodel, actress and philanthropist, born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 2003, she was the first woman of color to become the face of Estée Lauder cosmetics.
Waris Dirie (Liya Kebede) was born in Somalia and was subjected to FGM and fled across the desert to freedom form the heinous attitude toward women (Waris as a child is beautifully portrayed by Soraya Omar-Scego). She struggles though dreary jobs, eventually hooks up with Marilyn (Sally Hawkins0 who introduces her to the world of fashion via Terry Donaldson (Timothy Spall), learns how to dress and walk in heels and eventually becomes the great model we know us as today. She has love interests (Anthony Mackie) but her aim is to gain enough credibility and money to go before the WHO and speak aginst the mutilation that exists in many countries to this day.
Directed by Sherry Horman who adapted Dirie's autobiography for the screen with Smita Bhide, the visuals are spectacular and the manner in which the story is related is full of passion and compassion. The entire cast (including Juliet Stevenson, Meera Syal, and Craig Parkinson) is pitch perfect. But it is Liya Kebede who fills the screen not only with her beauty but also with a powerful performance of the main character. A very fine film with a heavy message. Grady Harp, March 12
Her mother tried to marry her off (as a 4th wife) to an old man when she was only 13. She escaped her village and managed to get a job at the Somali Embassy in London, where some wealthy relatives lived. After the war broke out in Somalia, the embassy closed. She didn't want to go back so she lived on the streets as an illegal while working at a McDonalds.
It was there that she was discovered by famous photographer Terence Donovan in the mid 80s. She goes on to became a successful model but the real story is about her crusade to help end female circumcision. She eventually quit her career to become a UN Ambassador to help end this barbaric practice. This movie definitely made an impact on me and I'm glad I'm a US citizen!