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West Beyrouth (À l'abri les enfants)
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West Beirut (1998) More at IMDbPro »West Beyrouth (À l'abri les enfants) (original title)

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Overview

User Rating:
7.7/10   1,945 votes »
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Director:
Writer:
Ziad Doueiri (writer)
Contact:
View company contact information for West Beirut on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
30 October 1998 (Norway) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
In April, 1975, civil war breaks out; Beirut is partitioned along a Moslem-Christian line. Tarek is in high school... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
8 wins & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Exhilarating and poignant, as the teen movie gives onto the war film. See more (49 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)
Rami Doueiri ... Tarek Noueri
Naamar Sahli
Mohamad Chamas ... Omar (as Mouhidine Guerra)
Rola Al Amin ... May (as Rolande Amin)
Carmen Lebbos ... Hala Noueri - Tarek's mother (as Carmen Loubbos)
Joseph Bou Nassar ... Riad Noueri - Tarek' father (as Joseph Nassar)
Liliane Nemri ... Neighbor (as Liliane Nemry)
Leïla Karam ... Oum Walid - the madame (as Leila Karam)
Mahmoud Mabsout ... Hassan - the baker
Hassan Farhat ... Roadblock Militiaman
Fadi Abou Khalil ... Bakery Militiaman (as Fadi Abi Samra)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Abla Khoury
Aïda Sabra ... School Principal (uncredited)

Directed by
Ziad Doueiri 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ziad Doueiri  writer

Produced by
Bjørn Eivind Aarskog .... co-producer
Rachid Bouchareb .... producer
Jean Bréhat .... producer
 
Original Music by
Stewart Copeland 
 
Cinematography by
Ricardo Jacques Gale 
 
Film Editing by
Dominique Marcombe 
 
Production Design by
Hamze Nasrallah 
 
Production Management
Elie Adabachi .... production manager
 
Sound Department
Nicolas Cantin .... sound
David Rit .... sound assistant
Thierry Sabatier .... sound re-recording mixer
 
Visual Effects by
Ronan Broudin .... digital compositor
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Roger Arpajou .... still photographer
Gus Khazaka .... grip
 
Music Department
John Bilezikjian .... musician: flute
Jeff Seitz .... music co-producer
 
Other crew
Delphine Régnier .... script supervisor
 

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"West Beyrouth (À l'abri les enfants)" - France (original title)
See more »
Runtime:
105 min | Argentina:105 min (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente)
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
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 »
Goofs:
Anachronisms: In one scene when Tarek and Omar can't find May and sit down to talk, a Peugeot 505 appears in the background. Peugeot hadn't released their 505 model in 1975-76, the year at which the scene is supposed to happen.See more »
Movie Connections:
References Escape from Hell (1963)See more »
Soundtrack:
Ya doray ShamiSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
6 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
Exhilarating and poignant, as the teen movie gives onto the war film., 9 April 2001
Author: Alice Liddel (-darragh@excite.com) from dublin, ireland

When making a film about divisive national conflicts, a familiar device is to frame the historical subject matter in a rites-of-passage narrative. This device produces a number of effects - a contrast between life as the audience knows it, and a historical reality they do not; by following a child's awakening, growing experience and knowledge of the world, it can reveal history and war as a lived experience, and not as something isolated in a textbook; it can show the progress of history as a kind of fall from innocence, as if any child's entering adulthood forces him to acknowledge shocking truths that are merely intensified in a war situation.

'West Beirut' tells the tale of Tarek, a gawky, humungously hootered smart aleck and class clown whom we first see disrupting assembly by blaring Lebanese over a megaphone during 'La Marseillaise'. For some reason, his liberal-left parents have sent him to a French school - this is the first historical nuance the viewer is expected to pick up on: if s/he doesn't, tough.

These opening sequences, messing about with his cousin Omar at school, furtively smoking and staring at attractive relatives, winding up obese neighbours, have something of the freewheeling joy found in a contemporaneous film about adolescence ('West Beirut' is set in 1975), Louis Malle's 'Murmur of the Heart'.

Except, even at this stage, everything is fraught, riven by division - the two languages Tarek speaks, the different religions among whom he co-exists; the different levels of space he inhabits. When he is punished and thrown out of class for disrupting the anthem, he witnesses the beginning of war, the shooting of the passengers on a bus. Again, we are expected to know which side is which, what they're fighting for etc. The main thing is, Tharek's expulsion and the beginning of the war seem to be intimately mixed, almost as if his transgression caused it; and so beings a pattern that shapes the film.

Everything you would expect from a rites-of-passage film is here, but tainted by the war environment - Tarek's first girlfriend is a Christian, making him aware of religious bigotry; his accidental visit to a brothel, his first sexual experience, brings alive to him the division of his city - it's always the subculture that suffers in situations like this. 1970s Lebanon is surprisingly Westernised and liberal, but a general retrenchment occurs, and Omar is expected to go to Mosque. It suddenly becomes dangerous to know the 'wrong' people, and the pressure of this division extends beyond friends into the family itself, between a pride that refuses to be bullied (Tarek's father), and a fear that just wants to get out (his mother).

One of the great things about this film is the way it brings you into a war situation - like us, the characters don't really know what's happening, they have no context - this is random, present-tense, frightening, where the morning cock crow is replaced by bombs as an alarm clock; where military 'protection' is no different from gangsterism. Doueiri's handheld style, used initially to heighten the vividness of youth, can easily adapt to the urgency of war, flitting between the two. The film never betrays either, never suggests childish games are somehow less important.

Omar is a young filmmaker, filming his friends and the city around him. One subplot centres around a film developer on the other side of the city border. A recurrent motif is of looking, being a voyeur, getting to know the world through accessing and interpreting visual information. This may be a biographical portrait of the director as a Young Artist. But, in its modest way, 'West Beirut' performs the same function as Nabokov's 'Speak Memory', using memory, nostalgia, autobiography, not as a comfy escape, but as an artistic weapon against a totalitarian present.

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