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Monday, November 07, 2005

Paradise Now

The first NZ media reviews of Paradise Now have popped up on Stuff. The movie is supposedly an investigation of "why suicide bombers kill".
Neither Paradise Now nor War Within defends suicide bombers but instead each wants the viewer to understand the mind-set that produces such acts - because, as Abu-Assad says, to understand is a first step forward.
Ahh, but what if the actual mindset is so abhorrent that your average everyday filmgoer could never relate to it? Because, without a doubt, this film has been sanitised and spun in the only way you can imagine,
“Paradise Now” was largely filmed in Nablus and it is a product of the atmosphere of intimidation that has become a feature of every day life in the autonomous Palestinian territories. Thus, the manuscript had to be submitted to the terrorist militias (Jerusalem Post, 27 September 2005). It is hardly surprising that a movie filmed under such circumstances would avoid any principled argument against the killing of Israelis.
Dear Mr Hamas thug, is this film OK for me to publish? Thus we get
Thirdly, as Alan Posener has noted, “Paradise Now” abstracts from the immediate results of the bombing: “Women without abdomens, men without heads, children without arms and legs, blood and entrails on the seats, burned pieces of flesh everywhere. None of that: after a close-up of Said’s eyes, the screen becomes completely bright and white and pure”
I seem to recall this technique being used by Michael Moore in portraying the 9/11 attacks. Sort of like the ends don't justify the means, so if we don't show the ends then we need not justify the means, just wishy-wash over them.

There is also a heavy German involvement in the film, which is commented on at David's Medienkritik
The film’s action, especially the dialogs and discussions between the main characters, portrays the conflict between two positions. First position:

The Israelis are criminal occupiers who oppress the Palestinians. They must be combated with assassination and force.

Second position:

The Israelis are criminal occupiers who oppress the Palestinians. They must be combated with peace activists’ non-violent demonstrations.

The film leaves open which of the two positions is the right one. The only thing certain in the film is the guilt and malice of the Israelis, the “occupiers”.
So Blues Brothers eh? We have both kinds of music, country AND western. Or, we have two ways to deal with the Evil Joos (tm)...

Like I said, what if the mindset is so abhorrent that you simply can't comprehend it? How would we go about making a film explaining the actions of the Einsatzgruppen for instance? What would that film look like if it had to be approved by SS high command and Himmler himself? Some will argue that the Einsatzgruppen operated with an offensive army while the suicide bombers are defensive, but that is not true because the suicides are never done in defence. They are always offensive operations, seeking out weak civilian targets, so the similarities are not small. As the maker himself says
He says his film doesn't impose a point of view but instead tries to show "something invisible and that has never been done before."
You know, I'm quite happy with a film that imposes a point of view. It is far more honest than pretending to show a neutral view that is in actual fact anything but. At least with a biased view you have the cards on the table and the ability to judge for yourself, without having to see through to what the maker is deliberately hiding.

Posted by Chefen | 11/07/2005 09:30:00 AM

2 Comments:

Blogger Ackers1 said...

I'm assuming you have seen the film Chefen. I saw it last night and found it really very interesting. What is interesting is that the situation is presented in a very neutral and non judgmental fashion. He does not glorify the suicide bombers at all and the political subtext if there is one is probably the argument put by the female character Suha which is that a peaceful resolution of the conflict is preferable.

The setting in Nablus is amazing, the contrast when they reach Tel Aviv is mind boggling.

I must have seen a different film than the people you link to.

11/07/2005 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Chefen said...

Err, twit, I was making a point about supposedly neutral films, particularly this one that offers a false dichotomy in terms of "the problem" as well as supposedly offering an insight into the psyche of a suicide bomber, if that is possible and how it can be neutral when it had to pass vetting by terrorist organsiations. If you thought about these things a bit more then maybe you'd have understood those points, but sure go ahead get sucked in by the "contrast" between Nablus and Tel Aviv.

11/07/2005 07:16:00 PM  

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