The moving debut film by Oscar-winning actor Chiwetel Ejiofor “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is based on the true story of Malawian engineer William Kamkwamba, a self-taught genius teenager who built a windmill for save his village from a certain famine. . Adapted from Kamkwamba’s blockbuster memoir in 2009, the film played Sundance with great success in January and now debuts on Netflix this Friday.
Set in 2001, the film introduces us to 13-year-old William (Maxwell Simba), a boy naturally curious about how things work. A born handyman, he earns a little money by repairing radios and small electronic devices for his fellow citizens. All the free time is spent raking the junkyard nearby for useful waste.
William lives with his parents Trywell (Ejiofor) and Agnes (AïssaMaïga), his older sister Annie (Lily Banda) and a little sister. It’s a tight-knit family and Trywell and Agnes are determined to ensure that their children receive an education, even as they struggle to make ends meet with their small farm.
We see that Trywell is a man who cares deeply about his village, although he is increasingly threatened by corruption from local politicians and predatory landowners who put the fate of the farm in jeopardy. And that’s before unreliable weather and drought created a devastating national food shortage. He is a proud and honest man who will do all he can for his family; at its lowest, he even begins to starve so that his children have food.
Despite being a brilliant student, the resourceful William ends up being kicked out of school when his parents are no longer able to make their payments. But the resourceful teenager finds a way to keep using the library, eventually stumbling across an American energy textbook that first gives him the idea of building a DIY wind turbine out of household items and materials. recovery. He believes the device will be able to create enough electricity to power a large pump to bring water to the farm during the dry season.
Kamkwamba was the subject of an award-winning documentary, “William and the Windmill” by Ben Nabors in 2013 and its story is powerful. In “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” newcomer Maxwell Simba plays William, in what hopefully will be a defining role. The young actor is a real find, brilliantly portraying William’s inexhaustible curiosity and determination.
The movie was shot on location in Malawi, and it looks awesome. Cinematographer Dick Pope (Oscar nominated for his work on “Mr. Turner”) captures the dusty, sunny landscapes in vivid tones of greens, browns and tans.
Ejiofor has shown time and again that he is a remarkably sensitive performer, with an ability to imbue each of his characters with a rich humanity. With his early efforts as a writer and director, Ejiofor demonstrates that this ability also translates into his sensitivity behind the lens.
Although his film lacks suspense (the result is right there in the title), it delivers a textured portrayal of Malawian communities and local culture, anchoring the film in crucial geographic and cultural specificity.
As a director, he takes the time to build his story, filling the narrative with well-observed details. It is a story that takes us through many trials that are never watered down as the family situation becomes more and more dire.
Ultimately, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” tells a truly inspiring story of a young boy’s ingenuity and how putting knowledge into the hands of those who need it most can make all the difference in the world. world.