This film deals with a very difficult topic, female genital mutilation in Samalia. This is a true story of Waris, a young woman who dared to defy her family and leave her home to escape a very young marriage as a man's fourth wife. Waris then faces many challenges as she makes her way to London with very little English and the knowledge that things back home are worse than ever. There are some very desturbing images in this film but it is all dealt with very well. Everything becomes even more meaningful because it is a true story. My only critique is that it has a very abrupt ending and I would have liked a little more information about what Waris did after speaking at the UN.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Occasionally fumbles its potent source materialJuly 21 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Judge Clark Douglas, DVD Verdict-- The story of Waris Dirie presented in this film is both true and extraordinary. However, an extraordinary true story does not always produce an extraordinary film. Desert Flower comes close at times, but continually finds ways to undercut itself. There are scenes of intense emotional power and unflinching reality presented in the film, but they sit uncomfortably alongside scenes of biopic convention and unpersuasive fairy tale sentiment.
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 [...]
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An unforgiving but ultimately very touching story of an exceptionnally brave Somali womanMay 31 2012
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This most excellent film tells the story of Waris Dirie, a very brave, clever and stunningly beautiful woman from Somalia, who rose from most humble origins to become a top model, a UN ambassador and a famous human rights activist.
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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Great movie!!!!!!June 17 2011
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I watched this movie online on youtube b/c it was a foreign movie and not released yet in the USA and I read the book. It was awesome!! It will probably be removed off youtube soon b/c its coming to the USA. It was all in english and was released in germany and britian I think in 2009. Anyways it was a really good movie that everyone should watch so they can understand how other cultures treat their woman. This movie was crazy! I loved it!! Watch this movie and you will see. I don't want to tell about the movie b/c it would ruin it. I suggest youu pre-order this movie. Im going to get it too!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Overcoming ObstaclesMarch 19 2012
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DESERT FLOWER is a very powerful film that introduces many viewers to the atrocities of Female Genital Mutilation, defined by the dictionary as 'FGM, also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is defined as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is typically carried out on girls from a few days old to puberty. It may take place in a hospital, but is usually performed, without anesthesia, by a traditional circumciser using a knife, razor, or scissors.' Though that is not the main driver of this story it certainly makes the life of Waris Dirie who wrote this autobiography recognized as someone who overcame insurmountable odds to become one the world's top models and a speaker for women's rights.
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
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I've never been so glad to be born in the US!Oct. 16 2011
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This movie profiles the life of model Waris Dirie. She was born in Somalia and lived a nomadic life in the desert. The custom over there is to mutilate a girl's genitalia at an early age to make them "pure". Many of the girls (including her sister) don't even survive this assault due to hemorrhage or infection.
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!