Netflix original “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” released in early March, brings the true story of innovative inventor William Kamkwamba to viewers.
Played by Maxwell Simba, Kamkwamba, a boy from the southeast African village of Malawi, recounts his story when it was published as a book in 2009.
Ultimately, the story represents not only his own freedom, but the idea of tradition versus progress. The three-part film tells his story of having to drop out of school and rejecting mediocrity, as his family is one of many reliant on farming and cannot afford the local education fees.
The village follows ways of life that rely on superstition of witchcraft and shamans. Other villagers display doubt in Kamkwamba’s “madness” and refuse to accept progression in science.
The protagonist continues to refuse those stuck in the past as he discovers a hidden talent as an engineer, with a newly found fascination with the wind.
Kamkwamba sneaks into the library several times and reads “Using Energy,” leading to incredible discoveries and an invention that saves his village.
In a world where inspiring stories draw audiences, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” includes noteworthy allusions.
Kamkwamba is fascinated in the wind, which ultimately carries him to new possibilities. He is further carried by the wind to better his own education in the United States and inspires other engineers to make discoveries of their own.
Not only does the protagonist accomplish great things in his discoveries, he also proves that no one is stuck with the life they are born into.
The film alludes to those deeply affected by climate change, and while there are many films depicting third-world struggles, the 14-year-old inventor shatters age stereotypes as well.
Receiving an 86 percent positivity rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is warmly received by critics as something that can serve as a lesson to anyone, especially kids doubting themselves.
“It feels more than anything else to be destined for junior-high science classrooms, which, if the film reinforces anything, is a noble venue in its own right,” Vulture reviewer Emily Yoshida said.
Those who found interest in films such as “12 Years a Slave” and this year’s upcoming “Lion King” may find similar interest in Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor’s involvement in this production, as the actor made his directorial debut with it.
“The directing debut of the actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is so worthy, so earnest and so achingly sincere that it’s almost painful to criticize,” New York Times critic Jeannette Catsoulis said.
The 2019 drama is a feel-good story that could be enjoyed by any cinema fan and it adds to the ever-growing list of films about triumph for yourself and those you love, while also exposing real-world issues.