Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"The Fight of Her Life" and "Paradise Now": how the psyche works

There is a little film from 1999 from India and Phaedra films that now seems particularly prescient for what has happened in Mumbai, although it probably is more indicative about what happens in the middle East. The Indian name is “Theeviravaathi”, in French “Malli: Le combat d’une vie” or simply "The Terrorist". The film has been promoted by John Malkovich, and is directed by Santosh Sivan. The 95 minute film is a bit crude technically and has a somewhat monotonous musical moog sound track.

Ayesha Darker plays Malli, a teenage girl (from Sri Lanka) who is “recruited” out of grief following the death of her brother, shown graphically in the prologue. She is fitted with the explosives and a belt, and she is supposed to detonate herself while putting a garland around an official a few days later. Yet, pretty soon, she seems to veer away from the shame that is typically the motivation in these cases (particularly in Palestine and probably with other conflicts around the world). She gets back into blood loyalty, and soon learns she may be pregnant. The movie has lots of ideological speeches that seem to turn in on themselves. Taken in by the family “sponsoring” her martyrdom, she meets a old woman who has remained catatonic since the loss of her own son to terror. Her moment of truth is at the end. This movie has a real end, with a red button. Not quite the red phone.

Landmark Theaters have been selling the DVD of this film recently.

A more recent film along the same lines is "Paradise Now" (2005, Warner Independent Pictures/Augustus, dir. Hany Abu-Assad, 90 min) in which two boyhood friends on the West Bank go toward their path of martyrdom. The film is graphic as to how they are “prepared..” The film, shot in full 2.35:1, shows the West Bank and Israel on location with breathtaking realism.

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