Wedding bells and battle cries




The film, The Wedding Song, directed by Karin Albou, follows the parallel lives of two best friends that come from starkly contrasting backgrounds. Taking place in Tunisia during the World War II era, the girls’ lives are shaped and entangled by their cultural customs, the anti-Jew propaganda and the French colonization. While their friendship is tried against societal stressors and expectations, their gender identities persist.
The unlikely bond between Nour, a young Muslim woman and Myriam, a young Jewish woman challenges their adolescent innocence that is quickly reshaped as the girls are inducted into arranged marriages. Nour eagerly awaits to be wedded to her handsome cousin, while Myriam is to marry a much older, wealthy doctor, against her will. Myriam’s mother arranged for Myriam to wed the doctor with the intentions of finally being able to afford the large fine that is in place for all Jewish residents.

Although the girls are seemingly inseparable at the beginning of the film, the Nazi influence and coercion stems a rift. The Nazis assert their alliance with the Muslims and deliver anti-Jew propaganda that drives Muslims to distrust the Jews. In particular, Khaled, Nour’s soon-to-be husband succumbs to the propaganda and forbids Nour from seeing Myriam.
Alongside the heavy political themes that evade the film, the director also hones in on disproportionate gender roles and sexual identities. The film is littered with scenes of affection and sensuality, but these bits induce serenity and casualness in a way that is most often unforeseen. In contrast, Albou flanks scenes of serene, natural nudity with scenes in which the female body is depicted as mere property.
The film continues to illuminate the the plights of Nour and Myriam and their contrasting experiences that are motivated by the desire to satisfy their families, religious upbringing and other subsequent customs. Sadly, they are enchained by shackles of religions, gender, age and class; capitulating their young lives into the hands of fate. Though, despite their contrasting situations and tethered burdens, Nour and Myriam find solace in a friendship that transcends stereotypes and cultural expectations. Through The Wedding Song, director Karin Albou acknowledges that peace between Muslims and Jews is possible and once personal prejudices of politics and cultural differences are conquered then this peace can be a reality.


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