Osama is a devastating movie. One of the reasons is because there is just no way to separate the story from real life. Even though it is a fictional film we all know what the Taliban did to the people – specifically the women – in Afghanistan.
I admit that I was skeptical at first to watch this film because it seemed like old news. But watching the film now I realize that the specific story that it tells – about the fate of a young woman at the hands of the Taliban – would still apply today. Not because the Taliban still exist but because of the predicament that the main character – a 12-year-old girl – gets into is one that will probably last her whole lifetime; no matter who is running the country.
Osama is about a 12-year-old girl (wide eyed Marina Golbahari) who dresses as a boy so that she can get a job and help her mother make ends meet. However she is picked up by the Taliban who want all young boys to study the Koran in the Taliban school. The girl hopes that the Taliban doesn't discover her identity but since she is now continually under their watch there is a good chance she will be found out.
Naturally the film is suspenseful but one of the reasons it is so good is the poet style the first time filmmaker / writer Sidiq Barmak chooses to use. Each scene is tightly put together and all of the performances are natural enough that is has a documentary feel.
At 83 minutes in length Osama is a darn near perfect film; and for a first time film it is great. Not to mention it is a film from Afghanistan, which up until three years ago had precious few filmmakers. I've heard some say that nothing much happens but you would have to be a ignorant or heartless to really believe that. Osama is well worth watching.
The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1:85 to 1 and is formatted for 16 x 9 screens. The technical production value of the film is very high and the DVD looks great. Much better, in fact, than almost any film I have seen from Afghanistan's neighbor Iran. This is probably because United Artists funded the film and did much of the post production. The film has a glossy clean look to it – in some cases it may belie the material but I believe it helps the film find a wider audience who might normally be turned off by gritty realistic looking films.
The DVD is in Pashtu mono but it sounds better than mono on a stereo system.
The only extra is a very good 23 minute interview with the director that is called "Sharing Hope and Freedom." There are English subtitles burned into the image.
Osama is a powerful and sad film but so well directed – in a poetic style – that it is much more than just a message picture. The DVD extras are minimal.