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Mohamed Al Daradji
Bennet De Brabandere,
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Mohamed Al Daradji
Bashir Al Majid,
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The slightest shimmers of hope will always be around somewhere during the darkest moments in life and pull us through
Diverting away from the usual politically-driven theme, this film of war-torn Iraq seeks fundamental qualities in humanity amidst the very worst situations from the eyes of a grandmother and her grandson in seek of her missing son. The characters have taught us that the slightest shimmers of hope will always be around somewhere during the darkest moments in life and pull us through.
Set in the war-hit landscapes of Iraq, we truly get to see the crumbled physical state that the country is left in three weeks after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Location plays a major role in helping to set the foundation of this film that reeks of desolation without a future (notice how barren the lands look without much greenery). From the mass media, we are often brought to the attention of the battle between the US/UN forces and Saddam's regime where a lot of focus are placed on casualty counts and the war development.
This film sets to tell a heartfelt story that will never be heard of by the world.
Ahmed is a naive young boy who is often optimistic about his life and all that surrounds it, despite being able to see with his own eyes the turmoil of his homeland. Everything is fresh to him, from his missing father's occupation as an Iraqi soldier to greeting the US Marines at check points. During the entire span of this film, Ahmed gets to see the world and attains enlightenment at the end of it.
He is not without fears, especially when he is left alone without his grandmother.
Surprisingly when they face threats that serve to undo them with injustice, he gathers courage to step up against the tyranny and correct what is wrong. He has the nerves to confront a bus driver for a fare refund when the bus was unable to bring them to Baghdad. This highly signifies the potential and capabilities of the young Iraqi generation who can help do the right thing and rebuild the nation. Likewise Ahmed's grandmother also looks to him for support and courage while mutually reciprocating the same, which represents the elder generation looking towards and pinning hopes on the younger ones for protection.
After all, they're only left with each other of what's left in the family (or nation rather).
Ahmed's father represents the current working generation that is affected by the cruelties of tyranny and misfortune that have long plagued Iraq. The mass graves discovered are only going to leave a huge trail of grieving families of the dead. I was personally disturbed by the death wailing of the widows at the mass grave sites.
Initially leaving home to seek the whereabouts of Ahmed's father with hopes of him being alive, the plot developments later degenerated into a heart-wrenching situation where they have no choice but to be contended with seeking his remains to bring home. This proves to be an arduous task that is bleak, but it has not deter them a single bit.
During their journey, they meet interesting characters such as a grumpy old pick-up driver who is cynical about everything and reluctant to take concern in others' matters. He condemns Saddam's regime (interestingly by calling him up during his call of nature) and has stopped placing faith in religion after all that has happened. His opening chapter brought quite a bit of humour through his crude sarcasm, I would say.
Ahmed and his grandmother later inspired his love and care to surface.
Another fine gentleman who was coerced into killing innocents during the Anfal (mass massacre of the Kurds) greets Ahmed and his grandmother with kind intentions. It wasn't easy for Ahmed's grandmother to put the Anfal behind and see him as a repented man.
Son of Babylon speaks a lot about embracing forgiveness and moving on towards a better life and future despite current dark moments with a focus on qualities of humanity over hatred and blame. Largely in credit to Director Mohamed Al Daradji, he has done us a great favour as we gain new insights and valuable lessons in life.
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