A great actor makes an impressive directing debut
“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is based on the true story about how William Kamkwamba built a windmill to power his home in Malawi. Chiwetel Ejiofor, one of the finest actors around, makes his directorial debut by acting and balancing a story about science and harsh environments.
Newcomer Maxwell Simba plays young William, who deals with the hardships in his family and country. His farmer father Trywell (Ejiofor) can’t afford to let him finish school, it’s been raining so hard in Mozambique that flooding becomes an issue with the crops, and trees are being chopped down for profit.
Trywell doesn’t want the issues to be resolved by greed, while the village chief (Joseph Marcell, best known for portraying Geoffrey Butler on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) tries to do what he thinks is right for his people, and ends up getting attacked by the government. Rain and droughts both prevent the land from thriving.
Meanwhile, despite the lack of payments, William decides to continue studying science. To start off, he becomes fascinated with how bikes can power their lights using magnets in what is called a dynamo. And his teacher (Lemogang Tsipa) is having an affair with his sister Annie (Lily Banda), so he agrees to let him study in the library. That is until the headmaster (Raymond Ofula) expels him.
About the dry season, William asks Annie to convince her boyfriend to let him use his dynamo to develop a water pump. Better yet, how about a windmill? It has to work, except his father thinks it’s nothing but a fantasy.
“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is an impressive directorial debut for Ejiofor, because of how he represents the hardships and innovative ideas in a struggling African environment. He guides himself and Simba with the right intentions. The father is so scared of losing food, money, and his family that he shuts down his boy’s idea at first. And the boy will do anything to help his people survive through the power of science. This is a drama with consequences and outcomes.
And when we see an environment like this using trinkets to build something useful, you can tell it’s really the small things that count. We learn about the downpour, the dry season, and the people and animals perishing. I like these kind of movies for using these types of tools.
I didn’t understand the whole story, but I did grasp the concept about the messages inside all the drama presented here. Ejiofor may have found another calling in his elaborate movie career, and “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is proof.