a multidimensional opus for those who know how to use their gaze
When this film was shown to Lebanese audiences, it created a turmoil. Some thought it had hit just the right mood, others thought it played all the wrong notes. in all cases, it did seem to hit nerves, the right ones and the wrong ones. It must be said that this is a film that requires you to go along with it, not to bring your own expectations into it. It does bring out a very particular vision of that bewildering city that is Beirut. It is the director's vision, but it does in my opinion grasp an absolutely essential element: the city's tempo. The problem is, one has to ask if a city's tempo can exist outside the subjectivity of each citizen, and here, it is plain that the tempo in question is Salhab's. and mine. and many thirty-somethings of the Beiruti scene that Terra Incognita paints. Many things can be said about this film, but it is better to let the film be what it wants to be. It is important nonetheless to add that the film is incredibly rich visually and aurally, with structural experimentation reminiscent of many a master of intellectualist avant garde cinema of the 60s, as well as the more sensualist work of Takeshi Kitano (e.g. Hana-bi). The work Salhab put on the soundtrack is impressive to say the least, and the whole creates an eerily immersive experience of postwar Beirut. A film to watch with eyes and ears and mind wide open.
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