How the Innocent Suffer When Law and Order Breaks Down ...
Erika Borsos | Gulf Coast of FL, USA | 12/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This fascinating film takes a look at life in Algeria during the 1990s when the government was undergoing transition and change. Terrorism was rampant and life for the majority of civilians was tenuous and insecure.
Rachida is a teacher in her mid-twenties who loves her job and has strong opinions about justice and civil rights ... She is cornered one day, by thugs who want her to take a briefcase that contains a bomb to the school. Of course she refuses. This happens out in the open streets, but no one comes to her aid. The terrorist and his accomplices surround her, one takes out a gun and shoots her in the abdomen. She is left lying on the sidewalk ... bleeding. The shooters flee ... Someone comes to her rescure and calls for an ambulance. A crowd grows larger as curious people push to see what happened ...
Rachida's mother sits on a bench in the hospital ... weeping softly ... waiting to here if her daughter lives or dies, as they operate to remove the bullet in her abdomen. Luckily, Rachida survives and awakens. She calls out for her mom, who is allowed to spend a few minutes with her. Her boyfriend visits as she is recovering. She learns her assailant was a former student. She can not fathom why he would shoot her ... After her release from the hospital, Rachida and her mom plan to leave their apartment home in the city and go to a small town in the mountains. They fear for their safty, believing that if the terrorist group knows Rachida survived she would be targeted for death, as she would recognize her assailants.
Rachida and her mom move to a small home in the mountains. They maintain a low profile and are visited at first only by a female relative who provided this safe haven for them. Rachida applies for a teaching job locally and becomes established at the local primary school. Again the problems from the city spread to the countryside. Terrorists set up roadblocks to shakedown drivers on the winding roads to this mountain village. They make surprise raids on the village ... The elderly and shop keepers are leery ... Young children are warned to stay away from strangers ... One beautiful girl escaped her captors and made her way back to the village. She suffers ostrasizement by her own father due to a cultural prejudice. The women take her back and care for her ... as she is pregnant from having been raped. Several children are the offspring of such events and cared for by local women ...
One night during a wedding celebration ... the terrorists strike again. The sad and tragic outcomes of this raid are superbly depicted. This film shows the viewer how very senseless and cruel terrorism is. It provides a visual witness to carnage, destruction and desolation that results from ill spent energy ... when the opposite could be true as the same energy could be used to build peace, harmony, and a stable nation. The film is most highly recommended. Erika Borsos (pepper flower)"
Momentum | United States | 03/13/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I have to say that watching this movie once and lingering on its setiment, its message, its cinematography and its agenda really made me like it. It follows the life of a school teacher in Algeria (North Africa) and how she manages to cope through being a victim of terrorism. It is not only a powerful conceptual movie in regards to what is going on in Algeria in the mid 90's where fundamentalists wanted to change the government structure, but also it was very nice just to observe how Algerians live day to day. I will never forget this movie. If you are into independent films that have meaning and also a cultural aesthetic, give this a try. Its not what it seems, although I highly appreciated it."
4.5 stars for Rachida
Full Moon Blue | New York, USA | 01/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The film Rachida is one of the few recent treatments of contemporary Algeria widely available to western viewers.* As such, it's incredibly important.
The first portion of the film explores the difficult social/political circumstances faced by everyday people during the civil strife of the 1990s, such as curfews and water rationing. Rachida (based on a real woman) is wounded during a confrontation with a group of young -- what's the appropriate word? -- terrorists, criminals...? The film leaves their affiliation unknown; Rachida's attackers wear hip clothes rather than robes and beards, a significant point for western viewers to consider.
During the second half of the film, Rachida and her mother relocate to the countryside in hopes that she'll be able to heal there. Unfortunately, they encounter a different set of predators outside the city. Again, affiliations are ambiguous. (I assume that this was intentional on the part of Bachir-Chouikh, maybe as a reflection of how complex the conflicts of the 90s were... no clear matter of religion vs secular government, Us vs Them, etc.)
Overall, the director seemed to want to emphasize the sad (yet hopeful) condition of the children, and the fearful paralysis experienced by the populace at large in the face of terror.
Not easy to watch, but nicely done and worth seeing.
* -- It's a bit more recent than Merzak Allouache's Bab el-Oued, and set in Algeria rather than France such as films like La Haine, or Yamina Benguigui's Inchallah Dimanche."