Sunday, April 3, 2011

Movie Essay: Paradise Now

I wanted to share a very short movie essay I wrote for class. Its about a film that I enjoyed, much the same way some might enjoy any tragic film of course, and felt perhaps a few others I might want to check out. 

Movie Essay: Paradise Now
Paradise now is a film about two suicide bombers. One must take pause when considering the purpose of a film that portrays such a morally reprehensible act of terrorism. Let alone a film that dose so from the point of view of the attackers not the victims. The purpose of such a film is best explained by its director "The film is an artistic point of view of that political issue," Abu-Assad said. "The politicians want to see it as black and white, good and evil, and art wants to see it as a human thing." 

This film leaves nothing in black and white and instead paints the last forty-eight hours of the life of Said in myriad hues. The film takes us through all of the preparations of Said and Khaled his childhood friend who have been both selected by the Palestinian resistance to under take an attack on Tel-Aviv. We come to meet Said’s family and mother. We see his work and some of the conditions of the Israeli occupation. 

Said and Khaled’s first attempt to cross into Israeli is a failure and Said is separated from the resistance group planning the attack. Khaled begins to search for Said while Said wonders through the occupied west bank trying to come to terms with his own attempts at resistance. He meets with Suha his love interest and discusses the meaning and purpose of the Palestinian resistance. The film is filled with such conversations. Suha represents the desire for peaceful forms of protest and a stop to violence in the region. But she even admits while talking to Said earlier in the film that such a conversation is going nowhere. 

The film as whole forces you to see the two young men not as terrorists but as human beings. While the all of the preparations and rituals of the resistance group attempt to glorify the act of Martyrdom the films progression and dialogue constantly undermine this process. While filming their last statements the camera breaks, Khaled is photographed holding an assault rifle he will clearly never use, and both men dirty their suits before crossing over. Most un-nerving is a question posed by Khaled right before leaving for the attack ‘what will happen afterwards?’ Jamal their religious guide and friend bluntly states that two angels will arrive to pick them up. His tone and the hush inside the vehicle suddenly brought home the absurdity of their actions for any viewer. 

From this point on the viewer is left struggling to coup with this absurdity. In the end Said and Khaled make their way to Tel-Aviv, Khaled has been convinced by Suha as to the absurdity of the attack and attempts to talk Said into to turning back. Instead Said forces him to turn back and goes on into Tel-Aviv alone. In the final scene we find him on a bus filled with an even mix of armed Israeli Soldiers and innocent civilians. The camera zooms in on his eyes and cuts suddenly to a white screen. The credits roll in silence. 

Paradise Now is a story without ending. It is Kafkaesque in that its lack of an ending is it self a statement proclaiming the absurdity of Palestine and Israel as a whole. The viewer is left to decide for them selves whether Said has committed the act perpetuating the cycle of violence or whether he submitted like his father to the Israeli occupation. Either way the viewer cannot escape being forced to come to terms with the conflict from often unspoken of point of view.

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