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Monday, August 26, 2019

Beyond the Canon: Wadjda + Alice in the Cities

It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. Beyond the Canon is a monthly series that seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically-related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion. This month’s double feature pairs Haifaa al-Mansour’s Wadjda (2012) with Wim Wenders’ Alice in the Cities (1974).

By Simran Hans

The bicycle is Christmas tree–green and shiny, its ribbon-festooned handlebars wrapped in new-toy plastic. It is the bike of 10-year-old Wadjda’s (Waad Mohammed) daydreams, so perfect it’s as though she wished it into existence. It appears like a dream, too, seeming to cycle itself along a brick wall. The bike, it turns out, is being carried by a truck; it’s not a magic trick after all. She follows the bike to find it for sale, priced at a very real 800 riyal.