The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Chiwetel Ejiofor has taken his place in a long line of actors transitioning from in front of the camera to the director’s chair. In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Ejiofor takes his subject from the bestselling book concerning the true story of young Malawian, William Kamkwamba (Maxwell Simba). During the Malawi famine in 2001, Kamkwamba saved his family from starvation by discovering wind energy thanks to a textbook at the school library. He manages to craft a wind turbine, which allows an irrigation system to combat the perils of the dry season and a harvest to grow.
There are moments of triumph in Ejiofor’s adapted screenplay. He alternates language between sentences and centres a small family drama against the backdrop of burgeoning civic unrest. Introducing us to the world context of 9/11 is seamlessly integrated into the plot as William tunes a faulty radio. In other instances, Ejiofor bogs down the plot with dialogue in the name of exposition. Nonetheless, the actor-director’s emphasis on character is clear. There are tender moments with the schoolboys digging around the junkyard in search of items to tinker with combined with heavier family dramas that complicate the lives of the Kamkwamba family.
The film is broken into a five act structure, chaptered: Sowing, Growing, Harvest, Famine, Wind. It is a simple yet spirited story that sheds hope on hardship and light on the tireless humanity of the individual. The director also manages to lace environmentalist themes into the plot, always circling back to the importance for education, the necessity to fight for your voice and stand up for what is right (the fatal flaw of Ejiofor’s character is he is too honest a businessman). The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a family film and as such it succeeds.
Like many other Berlinale films, the movie highlights the compassion of the individual and the power to effect change. All in all, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is an earnest tale of ingenuity and triumph in the face of unimaginable hardship.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is released in select cinemas and on Netflix on 1st March 2019.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind here: