The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures Classics - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 97 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): Arabic/French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Reem Abdullah, ABDULLRAHMAN AL GOHANI, AHD, Waad Mohammed
written & Directed by: Haifaa Al Mansour
Music by: Max Richter
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 11, 2014
Wadjda is a fun-loving 10-year-old girl living in Saudi Arabia, has her heart set on a beautiful new bicycle. However, her mother won’t allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue. Determined to turn her dreams into reality and buy the bike on her own, Wadjda uncovers the contradictions and opportunities in her world.
WADJDA is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn't be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. But Wadjda's mother won't allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl's virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself.
At first, Wadjda's mother is too preoccupied with convincing her husband not to take a second wife to realize what's going on. And soon enough Wadjda's plans are thwarted when she is caught running various schemes at school. Just as she is losing hope of raising enough money, she hears of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. She devotes herself to the memorization and recitation of Koranic verses, and her teachers begin to see Wadjda as a model pious girl. The competition isn‘t going to be easy especially for a troublemaker like Wadjda, but she refuses to give in. She is determined to continue fighting for her dreams...
After seeing the trailer for Wadjda on another Sony Blu-ray title that I had in for review I was hooked and had to see it. Wadjda is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, and was written and directed by Haifaa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker. It was all that I expected and tells a charming and poignant coming of age story about a little girl who refuses to be constrained by the boundaries of her culture. The film offers a unique insight and speaks of universal themes of hope and perseverance. What would seemingly be a simple story about a child wanting a bicycle evolves into a complex story that speaks to the human condition via a rewardingly drawn landscape that beats to a culturally different but universal drum.
I watched it with my wife and we found it to be charmingly amusing (where appropriate), heartbreaking and inspiring all at once. Shot on location and featuring an all Saudi cast there is a genuine quality that pervades right from the opening moments. Newcomer Waad Mohammed is marvelous in the title role and owns every scene she is in. Wadjda is a wonderful film that is 90 plus minutes well spent.
Wadjda took the prize for Best International Feature at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, as well as three awards at the 2012 Venice Film Festival, including the Cinema for Peace prize. The National Board of Review honored Wadjda with its “Freedom of Expression” award. It was also an official selection at the Telluride, Tribeca and Toronto Film Festivals. Wadjda is also Saudi Arabia’s submission in the Foreign Language Category for the 2014 Academy Awards®, marking the first time that the country will be competing for the prestigious nomination.
The rating is for thematic elements, brief mild language and smoking.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Wadjda comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.3 Mbps.
This high definition presentation is on par with other new release films of its type and generally looked great. Colors are natural looking with a pleasing and reserved quality that remained within the scope required by the settings and clothing featured in the film. Flesh tones vary somewhat but most offers little complexional differences which appears to coincide with the film’s geographical setting. Contrast is stable with solid blacks and estimable shadow detail. Images are detailed and crisp, with definable lines and appreciable dimension. While I noticed sporadic occasions where resolution fluctuated slightly this appeared innate to the photography and never called fidelity into question. The video is rendered well and doesn’t show any overt signs of compression related anomalies or video artifacts.
The DTS-HD MA soundtrack delivers dialogue that is crisp, tonally descriptive and well articulated. The front three channels handily convey the soundtrack’s elements via an open soundstage that features excellent clarity and imaging. The surround channels and subwoofer see little use but provide appropriate atmosphere in support of the film’s recording.
- Commentary with writer/director Haifaa Mansour
- (HD) The making of Wadjda – 33 minute featurette
- (HD) Director’s Guild of America Q&A with Haifaa Mansour – 38 minutes
- Bonus DVD
Wadjda comes from the mind of writer/director Haifaa Mansour and is a superbly crafted dramatic film that through the eyes of a child speaks to the human condition via a rewardingly drawn landscape that beats to a culturally different but universal drum. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and insightful supplemental material. I thoroughly enjoyed Wadjda and give it my highest recommendation.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package