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Film / Osama

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Osama (Persian: أسامة) is a 2003 film made in Afghanistan by Siddiq Barmak. It is about a young girl in Afghanistan under the Taliban who disguises herself as a boy, Osama, in order to support her family. It was the first film to be shot entirely in Afghanistan since 1996, when the Taliban regime banned the creation of all films. The film was an international co-production between companies in Afghanistan, The Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, and Iran.

To put it in troper vernacular, Osama is a real Tear Jerker that shows the effect the Taliban rule had on women, and how the absurd Double Standard often created impossible situations for them. Circumstances have left Osama's family without any male relatives to support them. When the Taliban close the hospital where they work, and enforce draconian restriction against women working or moving about freely, their choices are literally to endanger their daughter and break the law, or starve.


Not to be confused with Osama bin Laden. Although the use of his name is probably not an accident, the film makes no other reference to him.

This film provides examples of:

  • Big Brother Mentor: Espandi gives Osama shit about being effeminate, but uses his popularity with the other boys to support her secret identity, teaches her masculine mannerisms, gives her the authoritative nickname, and cries for her at the end.
  • Crapsack World: Life under the Taliban sucks and there's NO WAY OUT.
  • Double Standard: The general treatment of women by the Taliban.
  • Downer Ending: Osama is discovered to be a girl and forced into a marriage with an older man.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Osama's eventual fate.
  • Jitter Cam: The camera jitters quite a bit in the opening scene where a woman's march is interrupted by the Taliban attacking and shooting tear gas.
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  • Marital Rape License: The movie 'ends with the main character, a female child, getting married off to a man old enough to be her grandfather or even her grandfather's father. The scene right before the last scene is on the wedding day, focusing on how terrified the girl is and how much the other wives hate their husbands. The very last scene is at night, showing the old man happy and content, performing the holy cleansing ritual that he had earlier in the movie taught a class of young boys that every good man is supposed to do after he has bedded his wife.
  • No Name Given: To the max. Out of a fair-sized cast, no one in the film is named save Espandi.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted at the worst possible time.
  • No Woman's Land: The Afghani film Osama exposes much of the misogyny that was hidden from Western eyes during the reign of the Taliban. A member of the morality police whacks a woman on her husband's bike because her ankles are visible. Later we see that the protagonist's family is on the verge of starvation because all the men are dead and thus none of the women can leave the house because they don't have a male escort. They are starving to death with a market right down the street.
  • Old Man Marrying a Child: Several examples are seen in the movie, as it is considered acceptable by the Taliban. The hypocrisy behind the supposedly Islam-approved practice is shown by the fact that the Taliban literally auction the girls off to the highest bidder.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The movie pretty much leans way over to the cynicism side of the scale. Though considering the subject matter, it's understandable.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: With all camp and humor removed.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Osama does this in order to pose as a boy. Her braid is put in a flowerpot and watered for symbolism.