Thursday, February 07, 2008

Paradise Now

My friend 'Ainur recommended the film to me. The movie was an Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film in 2005. It won the Golden Globe award for the same category. Intrigued, I bought the DVD.

The movie is about two lifelong friends, Said and Khaled, who are chosen to carry out suicide mission in Tel Aviv. The mission went wrong the first time. Said and Khaled got separated. With explosives strapped to their body, Said and Khaled start to question whether they are doing the right thing. Suha, a female acquaintance of theirs tried to persuade them to change their mind.

The movie really made a big impact on me. It got me thinking about a lot of issues.

I was particularly struck by how different Palestine and Israel look like. The former is so bleak while the latter is thriving.

Below are the three scenes which affected me the most.


Said visiting Suha on the night before the operation

Suha: Do you go to the movie?
Said: No. There's no cinema in Nablus anyway.
Suha: I know. Have you ever been to a cinema before?
Said: Yes, once. Ten years ago when we burned down Revoly Cinema (deadpanned)
Suha: (shocked) You did that?
Said: Not alone. There were lots of us.
Suha: Why? What did the cinema do to you?
Said: Not the cinema. Israel. When Israel decided not to employ any workers from the West Bank, we demonstrated. Then we ended up in the cinema and set it on fire.
Suha: But why the cinema?
Said: Why us?
Suha: I don't know...


Suha trying to persuade Khaled to abandon their mission

Suha: Why are you doing this?
Khaled: If we can't live as equals, at least we'll die as equals.
Suha: If you can kill and die for equality, you should be able to find a way to be equal in life.
Khaled: How? Through your human rights group?
Suha: For example! Then at least the Israelis don't have an excuse to keep on killing.
Khaled: Don't be so naive. There can be no freedom without struggle. As long as there is injustice, someone must make a sacrifice.
Suha: That's not sacrifice. That's revenge! If you kill, there's no difference between victim and occupier.
Khaled: If we had airplanes, we wouldn't need martyrs. That's the difference.
Suha: The difference is that the Israeli military is still stronger.
Khaled: Then let us be equal in death. We still have paradise.
Suha: (exasperated) There is no paradise. It only exists in your head!
Khaled: Astaghfirullahalazim .... Astaghfirullahalazim. May God forgive you. If you were not Abu Azzam's daughter... Anyway, I'd rather have paradise in my head than live in this hell. In this life, we're dead anyway. One chooses bitterness when the alternative is even bitterer.
Suha: And what about us? The ones who remain? Will we win that way? Don't you see that what you're doing is destroying us? And that you give Israel an excuse to carry on?
Khaled: So with no excuse, Israel will stop?
Suha: Perhaps! We have to turn in into a moral war.
Khaled: How, if Israel has no morals?


Said explaining his motivations

"I was born in a refugee camp. I was allowed to leave the West bank once. I was six at the time and needed surgery. Just that one time."

"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 (Palestinians working for the Israelis). 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 weak. For that, I hold the occupation responsible. They must understand that if they recruit collaborators, they must pay the price for it."

"A life without dignity is worthless. Especially when it reminds you day after day of humiliation and weakness. "

"And the world watches cowardly, indifferently. If you are all alone, faced with this oppression, you have to find a way to stop the injustice."

"They must understand that if there's no security for us, there'll be none for them either."

"It's not about power. Their power doesn't help them. I tried to deliver this message to them but I couldn't find another way."

"Even worse, they've convinced the world and themselves that they are the victims. How can that be? How can the occupier be the victim? If they take on the role of the oppressor and the victim then I have no other choice but to also be a victim and a murderer as well."


The trailer

For more info, click here