Last week the movie "Paradise Now" started in German cinemas. This critique in Germany's daily WELT (translation: Richard Bartholomew) pretty much sums up my feelings. I will post more on the subject next week.
A Jaundiced Look at a Sympathetic Figure
Suicide bombers are really good people: Alan Posener: The disappointing film "Paradise Now"
Said is a suicide bomber in Nablus. Long trained for this job, he and his friend Khaled don't hesitate a moment when their organization's leader announces they've drawn the winning straw and will be allowed to stage a double mass murder the next day in Tel Aviv. (...)
The next day the friends start out and although Khled gets cold feet at the last moment, Said goes through with it and blows himself up with a bus load of jews. Mission accomplished.
So much for the plot of the German-Dutch-French co-produciton "Paradise Now". (...)
Hany Abu-Assads film is the first fruit of the "World Cinema Fund", the mutual film sponsorship of the Berlinale and Federal Cultural Foundation. The evangelical film jury names "Paradise Now" as the film of the month because it invites the viewer to "think about the assasin's motives". Amnesty International distinguishes it with its peace prize because it's neither "lecturing nor moralizing". That's true: Noone in the film says that it might morally wrong (and not just politically conterproductive as Suha claims), to mass murder the innocent.
Most German critics praise the "sophisticated" presentation. Well "Paradise Now" is certainly "sophisticated" compared to the hate soaked anti-semitic propaganda films that play every evening on TVs in every arabic country. Sure it's "sophisticated" compared to the videos that Hamas, Hisbollah and Co. produce. (...)
As Said begs his commander for a second chance, he finds the words that Europeans miss so painfully in the communiques of the terrorists. Words that speak to the heart - just like Saids' gesture speaks to the heart not to board a bus carrying a sweet israeli child. That's how they are, these murderers: actually good people.
But the film doesn't show Saids'deed: Women without abdomens, men without heads, children without arms and legs, blood and guts in seats, burned pieces of flesh all over the place. Nothing about that: After panning past Saids' eyes the screen becomes bright and white and pure.
At the 55th international film festival in Berlin 2005 "Paradise Now" won the Publikumspreis ("audience award") and the Blue Angle for the best European film.
It makes you want to scream.