“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is a beautiful coming-of-age story based on the true story of an African boy, William, who uses his intellect and knowledge to help his farming village battle the harsh challenges of the African desert. The film starts out by familiarizing the viewer with the relatable everyday routines of an African family coping with their own unique hardships. Their issues then worsen exponentially as government corruption and famine take hold, and that is when William and the audience’s journey begins.
“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is as much an engaging story on the achievements of William as it is a commentary on how many African communities are forced to depend on corrupt governments for sustenance, and how those governments often abandon the civilians who depend on them. The film mixes the themes of corruption and dependency so realistically that viewers can feel their own views shift with the characters’ as the plot progresses. The audience can be left shouting at their screen as William’s father goes to the capital to protest and is then shown weeping as the father counts the last remaining grains he bought from a government sale.
Famine, the cause of the protagonist and his community’s suffering, is something that even the characters do not understand. The images of famine and poverty in this movie are gut-wrenching: a father looking at his storage of grain with tears rolling down his face, a mother clinging to her swaddled child as she is breaking down to her knees. This film is the representation of African suffering that much of the world has spent too long ignoring.
Still, in the depths of that suffering, the viewer is shown hope. William is always pushing to fix the problem using technology rather than following traditional farming practices pushed on him by his father. The relationship between the father and son is the most dominant relationship portrayed in the movie. In its intimacy, their relationship shifts and is tested through their worst and best moments. It’s one of the most realistic depictions of a father and son story. This is almost a fault in the movie because other family members are not explained as in-depth, but it does not seriously hinder the narrative.
As they all battle against hunger and their own frustration with their situation and one another, the family is tested. Each member of the family is being wedged apart by problems outside of their hands. On the brink of their suffering and despair, they rely on each other to comfort themselves from the inevitable. At its heart, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is a story about a family nearly broken by their immovable adherence to tradition in a challenging world. It explores the trials and hardships of an African family and enthralls audiences in the process.