Paradise Now (15)

Directed by Hany Abu-Assad
Written by Hany Abu-Assad, Bero Beyer and Pierre Hodgson
Screening at FACT from 12th May 2006

Reviewed by John Owen

Since the creation of Israel and its co-option onto the UN to ratify its existence in 1948 - the Palestinian people have formed the ideological backbone to resistance in the Middle East. From Nasser to Saddam Hussein the call for their support echoes deep in the heart of the Arab masses, as part of the ongoing attempts to unify the region and continue the Arab revolution.

The film Paradise Now portrays the daily existence of two ordinary Palestinian young men, both with a mission. Not of there own choosing, but rather bestowed on them, a bequest from the past. To honour their heritage and become martyrs, impacting on the occupation forces in an act of self-destruction for the cause.

As young people do, they question their fate, their people's faith and wisdom and their own doubt on this first and last assignment. “But God is wise”, they’re routinely reassured, “Dod is all knowing”, this answer becomes a kind of shaman's mantra. To replace creeping suspicions, fortify self-delusion: “God knows no fear” and “death is afraid of God”. These serve to placate one who has strapped a bomb to themselves in the action of a suicide bomber.

Israeli settlers believe they’re building a Promised Land in the deserts of the Middle East, escaping the ghettoes of Europe. With a persecuted past, fleeing the Nazi aggression of the 2nd world war, the mindset created a sort of apartheid segregation, but surpassing its cruelty with their own Nazi-like race laws. They serve as US imperialism's 'iron fist in the Middle East', after the decline of Britain's role.

Like other national liberation forces (IRA opposition to Britain's occupation for example) the PLO have only military tactics in the arsenal. Indiscriminate bombings of civilians or military personnel, along with shock tactics like the twin towers, all point to the bankruptcy of nationalism and religious leaders. Attempts to solve the national revolutionary problems under capitalism with elite battalions of martyrs, or hunger strikers. Young people sacrificed who only want a better life.

“Death can’t be more bitter than the bitterest of lives” as one of the bombers remarks on a brief but telling description of growing up displaced in a refugee camp, and having the burden of redeeming the family honour as the son of a collaborator shot by his own. He leaves his already widowed mother and a lover behind. His French-educated Arab girlfriend advises peaceful solutions.

The clock is ticking though and fast; within 48 hours the fate of our two potential martyrs will be sealed. Gripping tension combines with the almost surreal, beautiful scenery of this fertile land. A hi-tech fortress in hock to US interests, history has dealt the Palestinian people a bad hand. They are dispersed throughout the Middle East, making up part of the workforce in Kuwait - that friend of the allies, democracy and all that bullshit, with no vote. A war with Iraq was launched over this oil barrel state.

A subtle and simple film with fine acting that scores on the emotional factors. As with the slogan in the Genoa G8 protests, “we are all Palestinian” just as much as now we are “all immigrants” never forget! Never again! But most of all never say never.

For more information, visit Palestine’s ‘weapon of mass instruction’ at:

Click here to read Adam Ford's review of Paradise Now.

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