From the Ashes (2024)

From the Ashes (2024)

A disappointing fictionalized depiction of a real-life Saudi all-girl's school fire

3.0

Movie

Saudi Arabia
Arabic
Drama, Thriller
2024
KHALID FAHAD
Adwaa Fahad, Aisha Al Rifaie, Alshaima'a Tayeb
92 min

TLDR

Disclaimer: Netflix never named the exact real-life tragedy this film advertises that it’s based on, so this review might not be fair. Just covering all the bases here, the same way they did.

What it's about

At the end of a normal day, a mysterious fire breaks out in the basement of a strict, all-girls school, causing chaos, panic, and confusion amongst the school population.

The take

From the Ashes is based on the real life fire tragedy, but upon searching, Netflix hasn’t mentioned which exact fire it was talking about. It’s possibly inspired by the 2002 Mecca girls' school fire, with the strict all-girl’s school, the closed gates and unattended cigarette, but the film starts off with a disclaimer saying that the characters and certain aspects of the story are fictional. One would think, with the freedom the film granted itself through fiction, the film would dare to critique certain controversial aspects of the tragedy that needs to be talked about – like the implications of emergency services being hindered due to modesty, or whether the media speculation was fair, or even the lack of safety regulations that the school administration failed to implement. Instead, most of the film plays out like an investigation, seemingly placing blame on fictional students, you know, the victims, for being the reason one fictional student wasn’t able to escape. Sure, it’s all fiction, but this is just not right.

What stands out

The disclaimer already proves that Netflix had an idea that maybe something was wrong with their approach, but it’s striking to see how much they don’t really care about the characters. There are moments where the film showcases a regular school day, where the students laugh and play, and seeing these moments made me hope that they would make their fictional characters feel real, in honor of the memory of the real life victims. But no– any of the fictional characterization is just added here for drama.

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