31/08/2017

The Grand Marriage - Grand-Marriage-Zilla?

Quick Thoughts: The Grand Marriage (2013)


Made by Faisal Al Otaibi, this is the Comoran film of the series.


The Grand Marriage is a Comoran documentary produced by Al Jazeera that follows a former scholar, Yehia Mohamed Elias, as he prepares for a dual grand marriage to his first wife, who he has been married to for 20 years, and his second wife, who he has been married to for just over a year. The grand marriage itself, which is a second ceremony that, either by months, years or decades, follows the initial small wedding, is not very common because it is so expensive, though, it is nonetheless an important tradition that is seen to signify true adulthood and grant higher social standing in Comoros. Yehia Mohamed Elias' wedding is a particular rarity because the ceremony is for both his first and second wife. As hectic as this sounds, the ceremonial process plays out smoothly over the course of this light-hearted and enjoyable narrative. I could't refrain, however, from thinking about weddings and their representation in 'documentary' form from the West - specifically through British and American T.V shows (which my mother and sisters watch) like Don't Tell The Bride and Bridezillas.

A good episode in these shows sees everything slowly fall apart with a big explosion and the bride or groom not showing up and then the two separating, bloodied and teary-eyed. There is then a cynical representation of marriage - which often isn't seen as heavily traditional - in much of Western media. There is, too, the romantic idealistic representation through movies and magazines, but the comparison between the reality T.V show weddings to The Grand Marriage makes this documentary all the more intriguing. What then struck me as I watched this was the degree to which tradition, and in turn social standing, play as significant elements of relationships in Comoran culture. Moreover, there is a transparency in the social structuring of these events which is simultaneously absurd and enlightening. It then goes without saying, but, I really enjoyed this documentary and would recommend it to anyone interested. To watch this film on Al Jazeera's YouTube page, click here, or, watch it here:


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