Monday, March 22, 2010

Paradise Now

Middle Eastern film
Length: 1 hour 31 minutes
Rating: PG-13

What is it about?
Paradise Now takes place during the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It centers around two childhood friends, Said and Khaled, who are chosen to carry out a suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv.

A good portion of the movie is dedicated to showing everything suicide bombers must go through before they are able to carry out their mission. This includes rituals, prayers, and making videotapes of themselves with their reasons for being suicide bombers as well as their last goodbyes to their families and friends.

When the time comes for them to cross the border into Tel Aviv, something goes wrong and Said and Khaled are separated. It is after this separation that their friendship and beliefs are tested, and they must begin to think as individuals instead of as a unit.

Was it a good movie?
This is a great movie, especially because it shows both the aggressive and the passive sides to resisting the Israeli occupation. Said and Khaled both believe they must take an aggressive stance, which is why they believe suicide bombings are the right thing to do. Suha, the woman who falls in love with Said, believes in resisting the occupation peacefully, and thinks that more violence will only tighten the already unbelievably rigid lifestyle they've been forced into living.

Paradise Now develops the main characters extremely well in a short period of time. Character development is usually the easiest place for a movie to slip up, but it is actually this movie's strength.

Can you explain some of the symbolism? (WARNING: this portion contains some spoilers!)
There isn't much symbolism in Paradise Now, it's very straightforward for the most part. However, the symbolism that does exist in the movie is easy to interpret and only adds to the storyline. None of these symbols are vital to understanding the characters or the plot.

The biggest and most important symbol is in what is commonly referred to as the "last supper scene". It is the last dinner Said and Khaled will eat before their suicide mission; sitting together with their fellow conspirators, it is set up just like the Biblical last supper. Some say that Said and Khaled are both in the middle so that neither of them can represent anybody from the actual last supper painting. Personally, I think Said is in the middle, making him the "savior" figure, and Khaled is on his left, making him a "Judas" figure. This would mean that, since Said ends up going through with the suicide bombing, he will be viewed as a savior by those who take an aggressive stance. Since Khaled has come to a revelation that peace is the more persuasive approach, he backs out, making him a betrayer to Said, and therefore he would be considered evil.

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