5 min read

Wake up Sleeping Beauty | Film Review

Anubhav Chakraborty

March 28, 2022 5 min read

Movie: Wake up Sleeping Beauty 

Director: Shila Ommi


“It seems you have to be a trapeze artist to live in this world.”

  • Parvaneh, Wake up Sleeping Beauty 


We are born in a world which determines how our lives should be. Our lives are not ours to control anymore. Gradually, time chains us in shackles, making us unable to move around. 

This world has been a witness to human savagery, people have lost their lives in wars, people have left their homelands and settled in a strange land among unfamiliar faces. The troubles of the world have shaken the very being of their existence. The people from the war zones have been uprooted. They live in constant pain and their trauma and troubles torment them for ages. These pain and suffering eventually goes down to their children. As a result, the children grow up confused and most unfortunately, fragmented.

Sometimes being forced by society, most of the women forget our core being and like pawns, dance to the tune of the society. Societal pressure coupled with our ignorance and immaturity, put us in a deep slumber. This deep sleep goes on and on  transcending time and space until we completely forget who we essentially are. In this dark lonely world, women are always treated as subordinate beings, their dreams, hopes and desires are crushed. Their rights , choices are questioned every single moment. 

In order to shape us according to society’s mould, we often forget our individuality. Ommi’s recent venture shows how the age-old shackles, misjudgement slowly send us back to our own cocoons and sever the ties that connect us to others in this world. Wake up Sleeping Beauty is a psychological drama which shows a journey from within, it is a story of seeing oneself in a new light, it is a tale of awakening. Shila’s story deals with various issues from depression to immigration, from societal pressure to parenting. Most importantly, the film is an honest attempt to portray women’s emancipation. 

Director Shila Ommi incorporates elements from Iranian culture and allows us to peep into the world strewn with pain, loss, guilt and most importantly, acceptance. The director tries to show the pain of the Iranian-American people who had to uproot themselves from their land and plant themselves in the foreign country – some of them lost their chances to rebuild their career, and some tried to survive and grow even though the situation was trying!

The film is divided in three parts – Birth, Underworld and Rebirth. Shila shows her main character Ziva going through a plethora of emotions to finally reach her desired destination – her freedom! The movie explores the suppressed desires of the characters in the form of a dream and reaches out to all the struggling souls. The film uses mythical elements from Zoroastrian religion. The yazatas (worthy of being worshipped) Anahita is shown as the binding force of the narrative. Anahita is one of the most revered deities of Zoroastrian religion, she is associated with fertility and women. By adding her in the narrative, Ommi attempts to give us a sense of bonding that transcends time and space. The film also justifies its name as the dynamic of Maleficent and Aurora is alluded to in the dream sequence.

Apart from the excellent theme and lines, the movie stands out as a brilliant example of technique and acting. The movie was shot during the covid pandemic and the crew took care of all the norms. (https://expo.aspe.org) The director, Shila Ommi says, ” To this day, none of the actors in this film have ever met one another in person. They were all filmed individually on green screen and edited together, after a few weeks of zoom rehearsals…I was commissioned to direct this project as a play on stage, and decided to transform it into a film upon the closing of live theater due to COVID-19. It was an incredible growth experience that I could not have dreamed of without my creative partner, Hitoshi Inoue, who filmed it and did all the special effects. Every shot is an FX shot.” The actors did a brilliant job! Actors Darya Mina and Hedyeh Falsafi play the protagonists Ziba and Parvaneh. The other actors are Sharareh Shahbazi, Azar Azarpira, Roxana Rastegar, Afshin Katanchi. The movie is the result of a collaboration between Shila and The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. 

In the first paced world, such movies create an impact as they explore the suppressed trauma of the human mind. The movie will definitely help people to find their true strength and make them aware of their surroundings! The world needs a collective attention to mental illness. Shila Ommi’s movie shows how important it is to ask for help. The theme is impactful and the movie is well shot. Let us hope that all the Sleeping Beauties of this Earth wake up soon – and hopefully without the help of a Prince Charming!

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