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When a mother's despair and a son's innocence meets in the post-Saddam era
Son of Babylon marks the first few movie to be made in Iraq by an Iraqi, after the fall of Saddam Hussien's Regine. Director Mohamed Al Daradji, a former soldier under Saddam's Regine, tells the story on the despair of the loss of the loved ones during the Iraq war in the early 1900's, where family members of the victims could only see the remains of the loved ones buried under the bed of sand where they hoped for their loved ones to remain alive.
The story begins with a Kurdish grandmother, Um-Ibrahim, and her only grandson, Ahmed, on a journey towards Baghdad to look for her son, Ibrahim (grandson's father), who was forced into the army in 1991 during the outbreak of Iraq war. With a weak body and unable to speak Arabic, Um-Ibrahim wants the willful Ahmed to guide her along the streets of Baghdad, looking into possible places that she can find her son. Throughout the journey, the duo met a driver who drives them to Baghdad from the desert and a former soldier forced into performing a massacre during Saddam's Regine, who helps the duo in locating various mass graves to look for Ibrahim.
The story for the road movie is fairly simply, but this may not be an easy movie to understand, especially for audience who have no knowledge on the Iraq war and the massacre during Saddam's Regine. The willful Ahmed looks naive and innocent, without knowing what has happened around him until he has to accompany his grandmother in searching for his father. On the other hand, Um-Ibrahim seems more of a villager who is ignorant on the environment outsider her world. Unable to communicate with the people around her in Arabic, it becomes a barrier towards looking for her son. But she will locate her son no matter how difficult it will be. When both has to work hand in hand together, it breeds frustration: Ahmed is tired of his grandmother reading official letters locating the whereabouts of his father; Um-Ibrahim has to stop her grandson from running away from her without her knowledge.
When arriving on one of the destination, Um-Ibrahim helps Ahmed change a set of clothes, so that he will not look dirty should they found Ibrahim. At the same time, Ahmed helps Um-Ibrahim washes her face after traveling on a long journey. Such acts sends a message on the desperation and hope of thousands of Iraqi's looking towards finding their family members. As the story unfolds, we will see on how many of the Iraqi's burst into disappointment as their hope dashes after being taken to various mass graves, where victims who died under Saddam's Regine were buried in the wild.
The message Daradji wants to send to the audience across the world is the destruction of the lives and hopes of civilians when war broke out somewhere else, be it an foreign invasion or a civil war. At the same time, it also gives a view on the society in chaos after the war, on how people begin to pick up the pieces from the destruction without any order. Son of Babylon is a story told from the view of the Iraqi's who survived the war, where all the people wished for is for the family and the society to live together harmoniously, not out into a war for the benefit of an individual.
While we have plenty of movies featuring American troops controlling and restoring the order of Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussien, we do not have any movie that truly reflects the thought from the view of the Iraqi's. Son of Babylon is the first, and may be the only few movies in the world that could have done so. In short, Son of Babylon marks the first few important movie on the destruction of war in the cinema history.
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