Silences of the places

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The stillness of a castle, a critically acclaimed literal drama with feminist overtones from MoufidaTlatli, was released in 1994. The film examines various forms of oppression that women and society as a whole endured at the hands of the powerful. Oppression and brutality are issues that are explored in the film. The main character Aila's early years at the royal palace are shown in a sequence of flashbacks that make up the movie's plot.

Through memories of her time spent in the Palace, Aila is able to explain to the audience why the term "quiet" is so important to the plot of the film. Aila is able to illustrate the silence referred in the movie title by giving a view of how women were treated through her flashbacks. Women, represented by Aila’s mother, Khadija are used as sex slaves by members of the royal family. The victims are never expected to open up on the issue and are forced to do abortion whenever they get pregnant. In the case they sire children as was the case of Aila, the children were never allowed to know of their full paternity. Despite Aila nagging Khadija to know her father, she refused to open up despite the rumors by women that she was Sidi Ali’s daughter.

Moufida Tlatli’s target audience for the movie is the general public, both from the Western and Arab world. The movie, The silence of a palace, serves to educate the public on different aspects of challenges women had to undergo and sometimes experience at the hands of those in power, especially men. Tlatli gives the world a view into the life of an Arab woman who is disadvantaged when compared to the man and the impact such an arrangement has. According to Dahlerup (2013), women in the Arab world are quite disadvantaged as they are controlled by men. Women power are not only limited but also the little they have is greatly determined and controlled by men. In the movie, while Aila is not yet independent despite running away from the place ten years ago to seek for independence she yearned for. Her lover is still in her control even in matters of her reproduction role, as he had made her abort her pregnancy several times and still wants her to abort her current pregnancy. By highlighting this issues Tlatli, has no specific audience, as the issues highlight the plights of women to the western world and educate the Arab nations on the impact the situation has on women.

Tlatli’s movie is to some extent influenced by Orientalist images as she focuses on highlighting the plight of women. The movie was produced and released in 1994, a period that western feminism movement was at its peak. By focusing on highlighting the plights faced by women, Tlatli seems to have been pushing the feminism western agenda. On the other hand, gender inequalities in the Arab world as highlighted in the movie is a real problem that needed to be aired out; a role undertook by Tlatli well. Tlatli focus on gender inequalities and violence does not cater for the western stereotype of women in the Arab world, as to Dahlerup (2013), observes that such plights are real issues faced by them.

Tlatli’s movie is despite having a setting of the Tunisia society of 1950’s in regard to class, gender and history are still relevant today. The issues of gender inequality are still rampant today as women continue to be oppressed in the society. Furthermore, the issue of class continues to be more evident as the poor in the society remain at the mercies of the rich and the powerful. The movie, The silence of a palace, therefore still serves the main purpose Tlatli envisioned in her production.


Dahlerup, D. (Ed.). (2013). Women, quotas and politics. London: Rutledge.

Moufida, T. (1994). The silence of a palace.

April 06, 2023
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Movie Review Drama Feminism

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