World Cinema

Paradise Now directed by Hany Abu-Assad

paradise_nowThe controversy that this movie has generated is a testimony to how important this movie and what it says, is. The movie is about people about whom the world chooses to sympathize from a distance and claims to understand using a remote. The movie brings a human face to the people under one of the longest running and brutal occupation in modern history, an occupation that hasnt stopped being schizophrenic, ever since the start.

This movie is ultimately about the choices that people make, under a situation where there seems no way out, except one. It is a world where death and martyrdom is taken as a way of life, as a given, as the only dignified answer to a life of humiliation, the only defiant answer to a war machine that kills without mercy . It is a world where you go to dinner with your family at night and prepare to blow yourself  next morning and you would have a complete justification, without self pity as to why you must do it.

But is also a world of possible redemption and a choicePARADISE_NOW_dl_1 of a different kind. And I believe that it is in this, above all, that this movie excels.

The story is about two friends, Said and Khaled, who are selected for a  suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The story is about how they go about preparing – as a soldier of the cause and as a human being. The story is also about Suha, the daughter of a famous martyr, who believes in an alternate way to fight the Zionist enemy. The movie is ultimately about the choices each one makes, while giving us a glimpse into how they think, how they view the world and the enemy, and also why they think and act the way they do.

paradisenow483_001 The movie is short and extremely powerful with some searing poignant scenes (Like Said’s last visit). It does not glorify or take sides, something that would have been all too easy, unconsciously if not consciously. There are no heroes, neither are there villains. The ‘enemy’ – is that the child who got up on the bus at the bus-stand? Is it heroic to take lives? It does not attempt an answer but leaves the door wide open for thought.

It takes an almost dispassionate view of the human cost of a situation that the world is weary of. And it makes you look deep into the faces of the people who have been sidelined to a few  paragraphs in the daily newspapers, the people who have nothing left except their bodies to fight tanks and jets.

It is an important movie. For all of us…

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