Wedding of Two Cultures Through Friendship

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The Wedding Song is a touching movie about a deep friendship surviving even in Nazi occupied Tunisia.  Written and directed by Karin Albou, this film explores friendship across nationalities, while breaking stereotypes of Muslim and Jewish cultures.

            Transnationalism in this film is portrayed through the merge of Muslim and Jewish people in one community.  The teenage girls (Nour and Myriam) are best friends of different nationalities. Youth does not discriminate when faced with these differences though.  In fact, as a majority, the community opens its arms to different nationalities, embracing each other’s differences.  Nour and Myriam’s families respect one another—Myriam and her mother are Jewish, but Nour and her family are Muslim.  Despite their different backgrounds, the girls are friends and their families support this friendship.  An example is Myriam’s mother taking care of Nour as her own and visa versa.  Their relationship is born from location and then community, but not from nationality.  The Nazis are in the way of the unity between these two nationalities, which causes characters such as Kahled, Nour’s fiancé to choose between security with the Nazi’s or relationships within the community.   

            Kahled’s believed the only way for survival was joining the Nazis.  Not only did he desire to stay on the good side of the Nazis, but also he was desperate for money to marry Nour. This is just one example of the divide caused by the Nazis in transnational communities such as Tunisia.  Kahled’s desires overtook him, and his choice did not only affect his relationship with the Jewish community around him, but also his relationship with Nour and therefore Nour’s relationship with the Jewish community, particularly Myriam.  Upon realizing Kahled’s choice, Nour had to learn the strength of her love for Kahled compared to her deep friendship with Myriam. 

            At the height of Nour’s conflicting allegiances, the hamam was invaded by Nazis removing any Jewish women.  The Nazis distinguished the Jewish women from the Muslim women by the hijab.  Nour had to choose if she would follow Kahled’s instruction to stay away from Myriam or if she would save her friend about to be taken to a concentration camp.  Nour’s choice to save her friend shows the strong bond possible between people of different nationalities.  Nour realizes the importance of her friendship, despite their different nationalities and backgrounds. 

            While showing the strength and importance for transnational relationships, Albou also breaks stereotypes of Muslim and Jewish women.  Traditionally, people view Muslim women as either covered and oppressed or provocative and a part of a harem.  Jewish women are viewed as more Westernized, free to enjoy love, while also following the traditions of their culture.  In “The Wedding Song,” these stereotypes are flipped upside down.  Nour marries for love and saves Myriam with the hijab, a freeing action rather than oppressing.  Myriam, in contrast, is forced into an arranged marriage with an older man and consequently turns into a sex object for this man, displaying a form of oppression. 

            Understanding the strong bond in this transnational relationship as well as the fight against traditional stereotypes causes viewers to realize despite different nationalities, traditions, and locations, there are many similarities drawing people together.  Instead of focusing on each other’s differences and the built up stereo types, people should engage in conversation to understand one another’s beliefs.  This movie is a call to unity despite barriers set in the way.

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