Geek Film Review Vol. 2 No. 7: “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”

An astonishing true story based on a book by William Kamkwamba, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” might have a predictable story with its title, but its message is powerful enough to leave a mark.

William Kamkwamba is a 13-year-old schoolboy who is thrown out of the school he loves when his family can no longer afford the fees. When failing crops due to drought and the resulting famine devastate William’s village , he sneaks into the library and learns how to build a wind turbine in the hopes of saving his hometown.

Production company: Participant Media
Cast:  Maxwell Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Director:  Chiwetel Ejiofor

Geek Rate: Sun god worthy (4 out of 5 stars)

There’s a political element in the story, and the images shown in the film are powerful. But its major theme is about the transformative power of education to help not only an individual but the whole community. It shows an interesting struggle between tradition and modernity of the people living in a small town in Kasungu, Malawi. They send their children to school to escape poverty but despite this, they scoff on the very idea of science solving their problems when it comes to their crops. They refuse to eschew traditional ways such as praying for their ancestors for rain.

Despite being the central theme, the film failed to present the importance of education in the story, a major flaw, especially with their title. But “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” has good intention, and the lessons it wants to share were portrayed well throughout the film.

Geek Rate: Sun god worthy (4 out of 5 stars)

helios-256As with stories adapted from real life, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is morally inspiring as it is entertaining. It is not too sentimental in a childish sort of way, bringing in a level of honesty in the story. What makes this film stand out from the rest of the stories with child prodigies is its insistence on focusing on the real political and geographical issues in Malawi, not shying away to the problems it is facing. All of this while giving credence to the people who are trying to make a difference in a community plagued with hardships. There’s controversy in the story. Though the middle part somehow dipped, the scenes leading to the climax is as raw and as real as it gets.

The Characters

William Kamkwamba (Maxwell Simba) – The film owes much to young actor Simba who played his role with such ingenuity the result is an amazing acting performance.

Trywell Kamkwamba (Chiwetel Ejiofor) – Ejiofor played a father torn between wanting his son to succeed and retaining their traditions despite hardships (as well as contending to the fact that his son is somehow intellectually superior to him). His portrayal of the role is excellent as expected, but his chemistry with young William is what elevates the film. He managed to stay out of the spotlight while making an impact on the film with his performance.

Highlight Scenes

Top 3: The moment when Maxwell entered the library to learn about wind turbines

Top 2: The scenes between Maxwell and Chiwetel

Top 1: The moment when William successfully built a wind turbine which brought water to the crops

Top Movie Lines

“Think of your dreams and ideas as tiny miracle machines inside you that no one can touch. The more faith you put into them, the bigger they get, until one day they’ll rise up and taken you with them.”

“Each piece told its own tale of discovery, of being lost and found in a time of hardship and fear. Finally together now, we were all being reborn. ” 

“I went to sleep dreaming of Malawi, and all the things made possible when your dreams are powered by your heart.”

William Kamkwamba was born in Kasungu, Malawi. At a young age, Kamkwamba successfully made a wind turbine after reading a book called “Using Energy.” He graduated in 2014 from Dartmouth College.

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