Ali Zaoua: the Moroccan Childhood Reality

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Ali Zaoua was incredibly touching and powerful in expressing the struggle for young children on the streets of Morocco. It was unsettling to watch Ali being challenged by Dib and the gang of street fighters, and his mom’s lack of means through her own struggle, shows how poverty in Casablanca creates tension for young people who have no way out. Ali himself is killed and while the death is terribly heart-wrenching, even more so are hearing Ali’s dreams to be a sailor, knowing that he would not make it there, and his childhood – stolen. This tension for poor people on the streets of Casablanca awakens viewers to the social concerns and depravity caused by English and American colonization throughout northern Africa, post-World War II. Watching Ali and his friends face gang violence, Kwita attempting to hold a funeral for his friends despite knowledge of religious burial, Omar returning to the gang, and Boubker contemplating suicide before the films end all give way to a serious sense of pain and suffering for these boys in Casablanca. However, the audience gets a unique opportunity to understand life for these young boys as a mesh or reality and fantasy. While reality is harsh and cold for them, mystery and whimsy reassures the boys of their hopes and connections in dark times. Ali’s dream to be a sailor and his surreal confidence inspires his companion Kwita to attempt to bury him “like a King.” This passionate respect the boys share, despite their differences and various struggles, shows how poverty leaves windows and doors for intimate human connection, even when reality itself is much less forgiving. Part of the boy’s escape involves huffing glue to pass time and while there is a tendency to express shock or grief for the boys, it is also apparent that they all appreciate the time they have together, waiting for the world to transform their reality, even though hope seems unlikely. The perseverance and strength of these children reminds audiences that in spite of enduring huge psychological and physical trauma, ultimately relationships often triumph in reconciling friendships and broken children, even in the sad streets of Casablanca where sadly children are just as vulnerable to death, violence, and persecution.

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