Women Representation in «L’orange Amére» and «Ex-Chamkar» Films


 

Ahlam LAMJAHDI

    ‘Lbortokala Lmorra’ or the ‘The bitter orange’ is a Moroccan movie directed by Bouchra Ijorak. The story revolves around Saidia, an ordinary young illiterate  woman who finds herself unconditionally in love with Amin. The latter remains unaware of her love, and her plots to make him fall for her. Seemingly, the film is a romantic adventure that takes its heroine Saidia to a world that is full of diverse possibilities and consequences. Still, what strikes us the most isnot the dreamy love story between Amin and Saidia , but the way Saidia as a woman, as a Moroccan woman, is represented, drawn, and viewed in the movie.

Saidia is, as mentioned above, an illiterate woman with very humble ambitions and aspirations. She is, apparently, a woman who has chosen to besiege herself within the traditional dreams of having a husband and a family. Her very limited qualifications have made her able to surrender everything to make her legal dream come true. The fact that Saidia is represented as an illiterate woman is unsurprisingly revealing. It might be said that, her subservience, and her unconditioned acceptance of male dominance is due to her illiteracy. Bouchra Ijorak is not to be blamed for picturing Saidia, who might be a crystal reflection of Moroccan women, in this very conventional manner. Arguably, illiteracy is a very confusing reality that most Moroccans are obliged to adjust themselves with. Thus, it can be said that ‘Lbortokala Lmorra’ unravels, to a debatable extent, the components of a society that is profoundly traditional, a society that is, obviously, unable to gloss over the remnants of the old traditional conservative mentalities which potently cherish male dominance, and which remorselessly regard women as mere accessories.

Ijorak’s heroine recurrently takes sorcery as her absolute refuge. Her first step towards her dreams is, ironically, made through witchcraft. The latter is, as it seems, tackled in the movie as an ordinary act that a woman should go through to achieve her goals, that is, supposedly, done through adopting the easiest ways. The comfort, which is highly touched in the way Saidia deals with this whole idea of sorcery, remains a bitter portion in our society just as bitter as the orange might be for Saidia in her love journey. In a nutshell, Ijorak’s subtle inclusion of sorcery, which might look perfunctory for some, is in fact a very telling action that represents the Moroccan society with its undeniable bitterness, ignorance, and cruelty. The smooth use of witchcraft in the movie is probably a reflection of its smooth use in reality as well. The first thing that has come to Saidia’s mind to win Amin’s heart is the use of some magic which might facilitate her mission and which may make the man be hers for good. The fact of opting for sorcery or, of thinking of using magic is in itself a clear admission of women’s ignorance, stagnation, and an unreflective subordination to untrue practices and occurrences in a society that keeps fuelling inequality and injustice between the two sexes.

‘Ex- Shamkar’ is a steamy Moroccan movie written and directed by Mahmoud Frites. The comparison between ‘Lbortokala Lmorra’ and ‘ Ex-Shamkar’ might give us a feeling that Bouchra Ijorak and Mahmoud Frites belong to two different worlds. Ijorak’s movie opens the door of a world that is humble and dreamy; it is apparently a world in which people do possess certain ethics, do respect the teachings of their religion, and do maintain the chains made by society. By contrast, Frites takes us to a different realm that is characterized by greed, lust, and passion. ‘Ex-Shamkar’ narrates the story of a group of homeless friends who suddenly taste the sweetness of a funky life thanks to the hero of the film ‘Rowayes’ who becomes a rich man, and who decides to change the bitter reality of his ex friends as well. The journey from homelessness to richness makes the viewer experience a variety of feelings due to pleasant and unpleasant actions in which women take part in a very debatable way.

The representation of women in ‘Ex- Shamkar’ is shocking to an extreme extent. A woman is, obviously, a mere object to satisfy males’ thirst to sex. She is, the woman, a happy ‘entity’ simply for being physically and sexually satisfied. To be stated clearly, the sexual satisfaction in ‘Ex- Shamkar’ seems to be males’ ultimate goal that is repeatedly achieved through women’s recurrent availability. An availability that is always assured thanks to ‘Rowayes’ money. Objectifying women in Frites’ movie remains a very disturbing fact that a viewer must deal with. Still, it would not be wise to deny Frites’ successfulness in accurately representing males’ and females’ greed and lust in a society that is supposedly a Muslim one.

If Saidia in ‘Lbortokala Lmorra’ is a humble woman who enjoys certain ethics, women in ‘ Ex-Shamkar’ seem to enjoy many attributes except ethics. Frites prefers to represent his female characters as greedy, lascivious, and fun-oriented beings who keep confronting society with its desirable and undesirable chains. It would not be necessary to ask about the possibility of proving that Frites is tensely wrong in giving such attributes to Moroccan women. The Moroccan reality, ironically, accepts the intrusion of several ‘realities’. In other words, Ijorak’s and Frites’s worlds might seem contradictory at the first glimpse, but a profound look will assuredly unravel the commonness between the two; they, consciously or unconsciously, represent the bitter reality of women in Morocco. Still, it may look naïve to take what is represented in the two movies as a real reflection of women’s situation in the Moroccan society.

   To what extent can we convincingly say that Ijorak’s classical love story is a part of a Moroccan’s woman life? Isn’t Saidia’s unconditioned subservience marked by a childish innocence? To what extent can Frites movie be taken as a real representation of women in Morocco as well? Isn’t the two realities represented by Ijorak and Frites deficient to a widely noticeable extent?! The two movies do apparently represent two highly different realities of one society. Ijorak prefers to touch the wounds of weakness, illiteracy, and ignorance, whereas Frites prefers to take us to the other hidden façade of women in which lust and greed can no more be taken as offence but as clear headlines of a life that is bitter and cruel.

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