In April, 1975, civil war breaks out; Beirut is partitioned along a Moslem-Christian line. Tarek is in high school, making Super 8 movies with his friend, Omar. At first the war is a lark: ...
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Fadi Abi Samra
In April, 1975, civil war breaks out; Beirut is partitioned along a Moslem-Christian line. Tarek is in high school, making Super 8 movies with his friend, Omar. At first the war is a lark: school has closed, the violence is fascinating, getting from West to East is a game. His mother wants to leave; his father refuses. Tarek spends time with May, a Christian, orphaned and living in his building. By accident, Tarek goes to an infamous brothel in the war-torn Olive Quarter, meeting its legendary madam, Oum Walid. He then takes Omar and May there using her underwear as a white flag for safe passage. Family tensions rise. As he comes of age, the war moves inexorably from adventure to tragedy. Written by
The title "West Beyrouth" has the first word "West" in English, and the spelling of the second word "Beyrouth" in French. The director said that it's an allegory to the trilingual cultrue existing in Lebanon: Arabic being the native language, and French and English being the 2 other quintessential languages spoken there. See more »
On 13 April 1975, while class is in session, Tarek watches the ambush of the bus from the balcony of his school in Christian-dominated East Beirut. 13 April 1975 was a Sunday. Schools in East Beirut are closed on Sundays. See more »
Well you certainly don't become an expert on Late 20th century Lebanese politics by watching this movie. But for those of us with an outside interest and a yawning gap of understanding and knowledge, this movie is superb "edutainment". It both educates and entertains.
The transition of the civil war through the eyes of these youngsters, as the movie goes on is moving. It starts off more or less as an adventure. It takes time to dawn on the characters that the civil war is tearing their lives apart.
The family debates about whether to stay or go are very moving. We know many people in the Lebanese community here in the UK, many of them (or their parents) must have gone through those heart-wrenching decisions back then.
The "romance" between the Muslim boy(s) and the Christian girl is also moving. It avoids the trap of descending into a Levantine Romeo & Juliet, however it seems a shame that the girl seems to just drift out of the story-line just at the point that we are all falling in love with her!
See it, it will be worth it.
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