Paradise Now?....Paradise How!
A few months ago, a friend recommended I watch a film called "Paradise Now" it immediately got added to my Netflix queue and a few weeks later it arrived in my mailbox. I had read the synopsis of the film and loosely knew about the premise, however I wasn't expecting it to take such a profound effect on me.
In the first scene of the film, a Nancy Ajram song was playing in the background and right there I felt something.... I watch many Spanish language foreign films and many times a song I recognize will be playing in the background and it won't even phase me why was this different?
I don't want to say too much about the film because I highly recommend it and don't want to spoil it for anyone, so I'll just stick to points that are discussed in the short description of the film online. There are two male characters who are chosen to go into Israeli settlements and carry out an operation. The viewer gets insight into each man's internal struggle towards doing this and also their motivation. There are female characters who have been affected by husbands and fathers who in the past were dragged into the conflict in various capacities and whose lives have been affected by the voids left by lost family members. Basically the film portrays the women trying to convince the men that sacrificing more Palestinian lives and perpetuating the cycle is not the answer while the men believe taking things lying down is not the answer either. Although I side with the Palestinians I couldn't decide whether I sided with the views of the women or the men.
It's fairly interesting, that although I was not born in the Middle East, I have never lived in the Middle East, or visited the Middle East, and I don't speak Arabic that a movie such as this can stir up my emotions and affect me so deeply. A few years ago, during the International Film Festival at the Archlight in Los Angeles, my cousin Shooshig and I sat through a very long documentary about the last days of Arafat. That film even with scenes of Arafat in the helicopter as he was flown out to seek medical treatment and all the information it contained didn't do for me what "Paradise Now" did.
It's no secret that when it comes to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict I've always been sympathetic towards the Palestinians and I view Israel as the oppressor. However, why am I not impartial to this issue? Why is it that my peers can be so oblivious about it, yet it enrages me that this is still going on? I'm not an anti-Semite, as I'm sure some would label me. I live with a Jew for Pete's sake! Even my Jewish roommate doesn't care about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as much as I do! (Granted she's more of an US Weekly reading, Pop Culture aficionado who thought Abu Dhabi was on the continent of Africa and I'm more of an Economist reading, current events and history buff, who couldn't identify even one Jonas brother or actor/actress from the film "Twilight" if my life depended on it!) I guess it could very well be that I liken the struggle of Armenians and our issues with occupied territories to that of the Palestinians, but surely, there must be more to it than just that. Why is it that of all the people in the world with territorial occupation issues I sympathize most with the Palestinians? I’ve observed that most Armenians feel the same way I do. Can it be just as simple as that? Is there a deeper underlying reason?
What shocked me most about my reaction to this film was that I realized if I were a Palestinian I don’t know which side of the debate I would be on and the film showed me that neither do the Palestinians. They themselves are torn on whether they should keep doing what they’ve been doing or find new means.