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Palestinians Said and Khaled, now in young adulthood, have been lifelong friends living in Nablus in the West Bank. They have both had what they consider a difficult life, now working side-by-side in unfulfilling jobs as auto mechanics in a small garage, being unfulfilling as difficult as the jobs were to get. Those difficult lives includes feeling like they are prisoners in the West Bank, Said who has only left the region once on a medical issue when he was six. They blame all their problems on the oppression by the Israelis. As such, they have volunteered and have been accepted by a Palestinian resistance group to carry out a suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv: after the initial response to the first bomb, the second bomb would be detonated at the same site. Following the bombing, the resistance group would release pre-taped video messages of Said and Khaled confessing to the bombing in the name of God. The mission would require Said and Khaled to cross "illegally" into Israel. ...Written by
The first Palestinian film to be nominated for an Academy Award. See more »
When Khalid speeds away in the green car the camera man is reflected in the car's windows. See more »
I was born in a refugee camp. I was allowed to leave the west Bank only once. I was 6 at the time and needed surgery. Life here is like life imprisonment. The crimes of the occupation are countless. The worst crime of all is to exploit the people's weaknesses and turn them into collaborators. By doing that, they not only kill the resistance, they also ruin families, ruin their dignity, and ruin an entire people. When my father was executed, I was 10 years old. He was a good person. But he grew ...
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The ordinariness of Khaled and Said is what's so chilling...
As interesting as it was, as undeniably striving for objectiveness, original in its approach and well-made both visually and in terms of production values, I found Paradise Now a little weak narratively, especially in the central part. But when a filmmaker decides to tackle a theme of this calibre, a subject as thorny and well... explosive, not to mention one involving such daunting amounts of moral responsibility towards humankind, you cannot help but feel in awe of their courage a priori.
The attempt to shed light on the unfathomable how a healthy, "average" young person could ever wish to become a suicide bomber is quite successfully carried out, and is probably one of the movie's strength. It was the main reason I watched it and possibly Paradise Now's main purpose successfully nailed and that really is no mean feat. On the other hand, I was confused by the shifts in focus between personal drama (Said's resentment against his father and desire to be different from him) and socio-religious-historical content at the beginning of the movie's second half. I wasn't sure what the director was trying to do... It's impossible to deny, though, that the tension never lets up during the whole time that Khaled and Said have the explosives strapped to their abdomens, much to the filmmakers' credit.
Even more shocking, though, are the accusations levelled against the movie by ordinary viewers that it's allegedly an apology of suicide bombers, and pro-kamikaze propaganda. Not all these accusations come from Israeli viewers - though most are (while at the same time, many Jewish reviewers loved the movie). One Israeli mother I read from who lost her son in an exploding bus in Tel Aviv claims that humanising the suicide bombers is the equivalent of a direct insult to the memory of her murdered child. Though you cannot argue with the grief of a mother who loses her child in such a horrendous way, you cannot help asking yourself what such people expect: that suicide bombers be portrayed as two-dimensional monsters complete with horns, forked tongues and slitty snake pupils in their eyes? This doesn't bode well for the future of the peace process in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Hany Abu-Assad has tried to give his own personal, brave, heartfelt contribution, and this viewer looks forward to more cinematic efforts from this talent.
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