Some Women of Marrakech

[some-women-of-marrakech--Film-list-image]
©DWS
52 minutes / Colour / 1977
Directed by
Melissa Llewelyn-Davies

Anthropologist Elizabeth Fernea

Country of production United Kingdom

Series Disappearing World Series

In Marrakech, traditional attitudes to women prevail perhaps more strongly than in other Moroccan cities. This is especially true for those women who live by the standards of traditional ideals in the Medina, the old city of Marrakech still enclosed by its ancient walls. This film attempts to say something about women such as Aisha and Hajiba – two main characters – who have experienced the hardships of life for women in such a society. Aisha's husband is an unskilled labourer and so she is forced to find work cooking and cleaning. Hajiba has been thrown out of her natal home by the brother who became household head on her father's death and she works as a dancer (shaykha) in a troupe entertaining men for money. For both of them the ideal of seclusion remains unrealisable, economic factors taking them out into the public world of men. The all-women film-crew were privileged to be allowed to attend a series of events involving women – a visit to the steam baths, a religious celebration, a wedding, a visit to a shuwafa (fortune teller), a possession cult trance and a trip to the market to buy cloth. At many of these social events the guests entertain each other, and the film is remarkable not least for sequences showing women dancing and playing musical instruments, the brilliant colours of their dress and surroundings adding to the visual interest. 'Some Women of Marrakech' is important for the manner in which it situates these 'ethnographic events' in relation to the division between women in the private world and men in the public world, providing an analysis which puts in the foreground questions of women's consciousness, sexuality and male/female division.

K.L. Brown, 1977. Review of the film. RAIN, 19, pp. 7–9.

Language and subtitles English with English Subtitles

Region North and Northeast Africa

Country Morocco

Keywords Gender Role and Identity Labour Dance / Theatre / Performance Social Norms