Film Analysis notes and
considerations for Point-of-View for Paradise Now
by Joseph R. Adams North Georgia College and State University (2005-2006)
I use this film toward the end of the course and preface viewing the film by having the students read an interview with the director. (Discussion questions would include: What sources does the director use to base much of the dialog of the suicide bombers? Based on the interview, what point-of-view do you expect the film to represent?) Following the interview with the director are transcriptions from significant dialog in the film and notes for further analysis and classroom discussion. Since I divide the film over the course of three classes, I have the students review the transcriptions and notes before class to discuss what has been seen already before beginning the next section. These notes should also be very useful for students who had to miss a class. This film is very useful as it represents a non-Hollywood approach to the complex issue of suicide bombing in the context of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Q&A with director Hany Abu-Assad, the director
Where did the idea for the film come from?
Every day in the newspapers we hear of these attacks. It is such an extreme act that I began to think, like everyone, how could someone do that - what could drive them to it? I realized that we never hear the whole story. How could they justify this? Not only to their families but also to themselves. However you may feel, there is a reason.
How did you research the subject?
I studied the interrogation transcripts of suicide bombers who had failed; I read Israeli official reports; I spoke to people who personally knew bombers who died -- the friends and families and mothers. What became clear was that none of the stories were the same.
There are also a good number of producing entities involved - could you give a rough chronology of when they came on board?
Bero Beyer is the Dutch producer, of course from the beginning. The first co-producer on board was Lama Production's Amir Harel from Tel Aviv who produced "Walk on Water, " "Yossi and Jagger." "Ford Transit" was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2003, and it caught the eye of German producer Roman Paul from the Berlin-based Razor Film. Then the Paris-based Celluloid Dreams and Lumen Films came on board. During the Berlin Film Festival of 2003, we all met: a Palestinian director and a Dutch, two Germans, an Israeli and a French Producer.
Exactly two years later, the film played at Berlin (2005).
How was your crew assembled? How would you describe the group?
The crew consisted of people from Palestine, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Israel and UK. We had Palestinian local crew and cast of about 50 people, a German crew of about 14 people, 4 French people, including of course the cameraman Antoine Heberlé, 3 Dutch people, the actress who plays Suha, Lubna Azabal, is a Belgian citizen, a British crewmember, and for the shoot in Tel Aviv, we hired about 10 additional Israeli crewmembers.
How did you cast the three leads? In selecting them, how did these actors embody what you were looking for?
We had many casting sessions. The first session was more like a job interview with about 200 actors. I tried to figure out their personality and if they had charisma or presence. The actors I found close to the characters, I invited back to work with some scenes. The ones that were able to add an extra layer to the characters, were the actors I chose. To finalize my decision, I had them acting together to see if they fit together on screen.
You shot in Nablus, Nazareth and Tel Aviv. How many days in each?
We had 3 months of pre-production in Nablus, during which the local cast and crew had to be found and sets and locations had to be found and/or built. Also the main actors were brought in early to work as actual mechanics in Nablus in preparation. We shot in Nablus for 25 days, then had to move. In Nazareth we shot another 15 days - mostly interiors and car scenes, but also The New Headquarter where Khaled is brought with Abu-Karem, and where they are all brought after the cemetery; Said and Suha in the car, talking about his father; the nighttime cemetery shot; Said in the restroom wiping off the sweat from under the belt; Said in the cab talking about water filters; the Othman checkpoint with many extras; and the olive grove.
Some sets had to be built to match with the original sets in Nablus, such as the exterior of Said's house (the original was in an actual refugee camp) and the exterior of Khaled's house (where Said comes asking for Khaled). Our production designer Olivier Meidinger did a tremendous job and did it quickly, to build those on the spot. We finished with 2 1/2 days shooting in Tel Aviv.
Did you and your crew have a sort of contingency plan in place for safety while shooting? What could you do to put people at ease with the circumstances under which they would be shooting?
We didn't have a watertight plan, because such a thing is impossible in Nablus, but we had a security department. They advised us when and where to shoot. We were lucky to have some very good and courageous people working with us, who made sure we knew as much as was possible and could react as best as possible. From the moment it got dicey, all the cast and crew were briefed as much as possible. They all had the feeling they were dealing with a film worth being brave for.
It was kind of insane to shoot a film there. Every day we had some sort of trouble. Both the Israelis and Palestinians were used to news crews of a few people. But we didn't have a small crew that could shoot film and run. There were 70 people and 30 vehicles, making it impossible to run and hide.
Some Palestinians thought we were making a film against the Palestinians. And some Palestinians supported the film because they thought we were fighting for freedom and democracy. One group though, thought the film was not presenting the suicide bombers in a good light and came to us with guns and asked us to stop.
Not one day went by without our having to stop filming. We would stop and wait until the firing stopped and then start again.
Describe the difficulties involved in shooting in Nablus.
To get into the area you have to get friendly with the Israeli army, to survive inside the area you have to work with the Palestinians. Immediately, it is a difficult task. To many Palestinians, we were instantly suspicious; how did we get in with so many people and so much material? Everybody wanted to read our script and many, not understanding what we were trying to do, drew different conclusions.
In Nablus, the Israeli Army invades the city almost everyday to arrest what they call the 'Wanted' Palestinians. At day-break the invasion starts with tanks rolling in, gunshots and rocket attacks and in the evening there is a curfew. We had to report our whereabouts to these armed Palestinian factions behind the backs of the Israeli Army, without the Israeli Army knowing we were in contact with the Palestinians, because getting in and out of Nablus was difficult enough as it was. On top of this, the rivalry between Palestinian factions meant approval from one faction and meant definite disapproval from the other. The rumor that we were doing something that was anti-suicide bombers was spreading fast, and one faction kidnapped our local location manager, Hassan Titi, and demanded that we leave Nablus.
That day there was an Israeli missile attack on a nearby car, and gunmen ordered us to leave, which was the last straw for six of our European crew members. They left and I don't blame them. They did the right thing. Life is more important than a film. We were too close to the destruction and the situation was getting worse. Most of the real danger was from the missiles. When we heard shooting, we could go somewhere else, but you don't see missiles coming. That is much more scary. For all these reason we had to stop the shooting and I had a few dilemmas to deal with: How do I get my location manager back, how can I stay friendly with the various Palestinian factions without the Israelis knowing about it and seeing me as one of them, risking a rocket attack? Where do I find six professional crew members on such short notice, whom I have to recruit by telling the reason why the others left?
I decided to contact Prime Minister Yasser Arafat, although I'd never met him. I knew for a fact that Arafat had never visited a cinema, however, he did help us obtain the release of our location manager who was returned two hours later.
But I was torn with a new dilemma. Should we stay in Nablus or should we go? If we left, we would justify the rumors that we were traitors. That would leave Hassan and the rest of our local crew who we would have to leave behind, as well as the factions that were on our side, in big trouble. If we stayed, we would have to continue working in a war zone and stand up against the rival factions. I decided to stay, it seemed the only option, but it created another dilemma; my producer Bero Beyer, wanted to leave. After a long fight I suggested the following to Bero: I would start a campaign in town to stop the rumors, without upsetting the Army. In the meantime, the local and international journalists were about to turn Hassan's kidnapping into world news. We asked them to hold, because we were afraid of what that might do. The rival faction started a counter campaign. They were handing out pamphlets saying that we were an American/Spanish conspiracy. So we were outlawed. It seemed that with every step in the right direction, we were pushed back two steps. Every plan we made to resume the shoot got torpedoed.
After three weeks at a standstill, we resumed working again. I will save you the details of the financial troubles we got ourselves into. Six new crew members were flown in and I continued, paranoid and under great stress, with my original plan: directing a movie, dealing with actors, crew and Mise en Scene.
Five days later, a land mine exploded 300 meters away from the set. We were running towards it; three young men died in the area we were shooting the night before, and the lead actress, Lubna Azabal, fainted. Though we wanted to continue filming in Nablus for authenticity and continuity, we felt we had no other choice but to leave. We decided to move the set to my birth city Nazareth and leave Nablus for good.
We took these ridiculous risks to make sure the film would be as close to reality as possible and to have an authentic look and feel. I understand why the Palestinian crew might do this, but I have wondered why the foreign crew would risk their lives.
It would have been quicker and easier to shoot digitally. Why did you make the film on 35mm?
It was a way of creating a distinction from the news footage that is on our television screens every day. While the film looks realistic, naturalistic, it is still a film and tells a story. On the one hand, the film is fiction and at the same time you want to it to ring true.
A surprising moment in the film is the shooting of the martyr videos - was there any particular inspiration for the humor and pathos in that scene?
The scene catches the heart of the film's idea by simultaneously breaking down the martyrdom-heroism as well as the monster-evil and making it human. And humans are often quite banal, but also funny and emotional. In real life there often is comedy in the most tragic moments.
I shot the scene in a real location. This was one of the film's concepts; putting actors in the real surroundings in order to create a moment of truth with the actor. When Ali Suliman stands where real martyrs also stand giving their speech, he was so nervous there was no need to act anymore. I was also nervous, because all around us, real organizers of these kind of attacks were watching. I was very afraid they would get angry about the comedy in the scene. The entire cast and crew were nervous.
By the end of Take One, where Ali makes the speech, one of the organizers stopped us. I thought: now it is over. But he just wanted to show Ali how to hold his gun correctly. There was no protest over the humor at all. Later I realized that in reality things like this happen. It wasn't irregular to them. By the way, Ali's gun was theirs. We borrowed it. When Ali held it, knowing that this gun was used daily to aim at the Israeli Army, it had quite an impact on him.
When you finished production, how did you feel?
After we finished, François Perrault-Alix, the gaffer, said to me: "So much has happened; I don't even know where to start when I get back to France. Usually I'll have a few good stories after a shoot that will last a while in the local pub, but now...the amount of stories I have to tell will last for the next three years, but I don't know where to start."
And that's how I feel. I look at my journal and realize there were so many stories happening every day and all worth telling. We were all, given all that had happened, exhausted and euphoric.
Are you anticipating that Israeli or Jewish groups might find the film sympathetic to suicide bombers?
I understand that it will be upsetting to some that I have given a human face to the suicide bombers; I am also very critical of the suicide bombers, as well.
The film is simply meant to open a discussion, hopefully, a meaningful discussion, about the real issues at hand. I hope that the film will succeed in stimulating thought. If you see the film, it's fairly obvious that it does not condone the taking of lives. In my experience, with the film since it screened earlier this year in Berlin, much of the talk and protest comes from the idea of the film and not necessarily the film itself.
The full weight and complexity of the situation is impossible to show on film. No one side can claim a moral stance because taking any life is not a moral action. The entire situation is outside of what we can call morality. If we didn't believe that we were making something meaningful, that could be part of a larger dialogue, we wouldn't have gambled our lives in Nablus.
Notes on scenes and dialog in the film (DVD chapters):
Chapter 1: Nablus Checkpoint. (anyone entering or leaving the West Bank, because it is occupied by Israel and being settled by Israeli settlers, non Israelis have to be checked for security purposes. Since 1967, Palestinians have not been allowed to come and go freely between the two once connected regions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians argue that in effect they have been hostage on their own land, unable to secure a passport to travel abroad or between different areas of their own land to work or visit family without going through numerous checkpoints. Interestingly, many Palestinians who are judged to be no security risk are allowed to work in Israel between certain hours. The woman Suha, a
privileged daughter of a Palestinian rights advocate who was killed by Palestinian group because his methods were not radical enough, is returning from studies abroad presumably to get back to her roots. (She says in a subsequent scene that she was born in France and grew up in Morocco, a French colony until 1962.) Her experience going through the entry checkpoint into the West Bank shows the
vulnerability that women living under any military dictatorship, occupation, or war zone certainly experience. It has become known in recent years that even U.N. troops in Africa sent there to keep the peace in some African countries take advantage of women who come to them for help or seek safe passage. Consequently, within the issue of women's rights at the end of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, women in third world, or developing countries, generally have different expectations regarding the fight for their rights. They are concerned first of all with their country's independence, economic and political. At international women's rights conferences, they are more concerned about protection of their local economies to make them less dependent on multi-national corporations and the related national governments that control loans and politics in their country (neo-colonial issues). Women in industrialized countries, on the other hand, are more concerned with equal pay for equal work issues since their economies are generally on the winning end of the international economy. Palestinian women, of course fit in this latter group as their primary concern is over the Israeli occupation and the lack of economic opportunity for anyone.
What are the different issues confronting women in the developing world than women in the industrialized world face in the late 20th and early 21st centuries?
Mechanic shop scene: This is an interesting scene in which a customer is questioning the fender repair job of the two friends who work at the body-repair shop. In the foreground of the shot angle is a pot of water boiling on a propane burning and boiling over as Said loses his temper -- the pot boils over again when Said is on the run thinking about his first failed mission. The customer says, "[the bumper] crooked! Just like your father!" Said's father was killed by the Palestinian independence group, Hamas, in retribution for being an Israeli collaborator, or informant. Needy families can easily be paid off by either side in hopes of helping their family pay off debt, or other expenses. The lack of economic development in any militarized zone or occupied zone as is the case in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip in the Palestinian territories, creates high tensions and high stakes for all interested parties. Struggling families suffer retaliation from either side when it finds out that it may be supporting the other. Since 1987, the Palestinian INTIFADA movement has been working through non-violent and violent measures to attack the occupying Israeli military. The biggest sticking point in finding a settlement has been the status of Jerusalem, a city in Palestinian territory, but claimed by Israel as a non-starter for including in a possible Palestinian state. The argument over the fender, emphasizing the significance of one's perspective determining the relative crookedness also symbolizes the whole difficulty of the impasse between Palestine and Israel regarding the status of Jerusalem, whose territory it is historically. It depends on your perspective of it in relation to the historical timeline you choose. For Muslims, the city has been holy since the death of Muhammad and ascent by him to heaven from there. For Jews it has been significant since the time of David as it was the site of an ancient capital for Israel/Judea. A longer perspective than that can show that the city has been shared by a number of peoples and does not belong to any one group.) The coffee pot boils over about the time the customer says that its the right side that is crooked and Khaled takes the sledge to hammer the whole right side off of the frame. The symbolism here is that compromise, or consensus is a hard thing to come by in this regional culture. Many Palestinians, like many Israelis are not willing (or able) to consider alternative viewpoints of their mutual predicament.
Chapter 2: Tobacco and tea scene above the city. Khaled and Said are smoking a water pipe used commonly throughout the Mid-East and Northern Africa. Flavored tobacco, like vanilla, cherry, cappuccino are commonly smoked and the tobacco and pipes are even on the menu in many restaurants, brought out after desert to enjoy with tea. Apparently, the pipe in this scene was rented from the boy who brought them cups of tea. The stare-down between the boy and Khaled shows the extent to which children have a fighting instinct to survive. Of course this is the situation for many children in militarized and otherwise occupied regions of the world. The cassette they are listening to is a tape Said took from Suha's car. It is traditional Palestinian folk music that "sounds familiar to Khaled" and eventually inspires him to rise and dance to it, imitating the days before the Occupation that people Khaled and Said's age only hear about from their grandparents who lost their land either during the initial wars after the creation of Israel in 1947 or during the 1967 war when Israel seized the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Traditional folk music represents the "good old days" in every country, but for Palestinians, one would guess, the longing for those times of independence is probably even more poignant.
Taxi scene: Since one of the checkpoints is closed, the people in the taxi don't miss a beat as they walk down a trail to catch another taxi on a road below. The people barely pause to duck when the sound of a bomb and gunfire go off. In the Occupied territories, there is constant conflict between the troops and areas where they believe to be suspected insurgents. Consequently, getting work permits can be tied providing information to Israeli authorities. Collaborators with Israel can suffer retribution from the Palestinian insurgency. Similar situations play out in Iraq everyday as the American Occupation and the Iraqi police seek out insurgents, pay-off collaborators, or informants, and the Sunni population carries out revenge attacks on the families of American collaborators. The key difference here is that American forces are trying to get the various groups in Iraq to form their own government so American troops can turn it over to an Iraqi Army. The Sunnis, like some groups in Israel do not want to give up the power that they have exercised for decades.
Restaurant scene: The exchange with the other customer about Sweden, regarding suicide rates being the highest in the world there despite the fact that they have relative social order offers an interesting transition to the next scene. Perhaps the customer in the restaurant can not understand why suicide would even be a factor there where there are so many things apparently going well for the people there. His consideration of Swedish motives for suicide beg the viewer to ask questions about the motives or feelings of desperation that would lead to anyone's contemplating suicide as an alternative. Apparently, Sweden made some comments to Palestinian authorities on behalf of Palestinian informants to Israel that have been jailed and killed. Because Said's father was killed for being an informant, Khaled confronts the other customer when he hears him say that the informant as well as his friends, family, and financial supporters should be punished. The customer accuses Khaled of being Swedish,, or unpatriotic, for his comments. When nationalism trumps common sense and respect for humanity, as has been the case for much of the twentieth century, wars become inevitable.
Chapter 3. Photo taking session scene. Said can not seem to relax enough to have his picture taken and the photographer has to stage the photo of him being happy under a blue sky. The scene is symbolic of a people under colonial or foreign military occupation, not being able to achieve self-esteem and happiness on their own land. Without passports and not able to travel between one part of their ancestral land to another to visit family, frustration can rule.
12:00 Said returning home to a home in a refugee camp scene: Jamal, the Palestinian operative, a friend of Said's family, who provides for the education of the children in the refugee camp (one may wonder what kind of education), makes some comments regarding Khaled that are not as respectful as one might expect considering the "honor" he is about to bestow upon Khaled and Said. He begins by quoting Abu Azzam, a martyr (a Palestinian fighter or bomber), "If you fear death, you're already dead. If you don't, you'll have a sudden and painless death." The Mossad is the Israeli secret police that spent millions trying to capture him. To avenge his and Abu Jabber's son's killing by the Mossad when they bombed their homes, Said is informed that he and Khaled have been chosen, if they agree to carry out a suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel
Chapter 4. Said returns home to the reprimanding of his mother and stepbrother, or fellow family member in a refugee camp the scene is supposed to depict, according to an interview with the director. Said gets little respect from fellow Palestinians since his father was killed by the Palestinian authorities for being an informant for Israel. In the first body shop scene, the complaining customer tells Said that the fender is as crooked as his father. Said's wearing of the wearing the boy's shirt may imply the poverty in which they live and the necessity of their sharing clothing and possessions. Said's mother cooks for all of them. Certainly there are many fatherless children who's dream is to avenge their deaths. The disrespect shown to Said by the boy can be contrasted with the respect, or more loving relationship, shown between Khaled and his sister in his home. Said tells his mother that Jamal has gotten him a work permit for Israel, but subsequent glances between them over supper let her know that something more is on his mind. Jamal is constantly checking the psychological condition of Said to make sure he is "fit" for the mission. The boy's comments about the taste of the water and whether or not Said's mother had changed the filter, show that water is certainly an issue and purchasing and changing water filters is part of the daily chores.
Chapter 5: Said returns the car keys to Suha. Said obviously has entered an affluent part of town. Suha invites him in for tea and they have a discussion about Said's hobbies and Said tells Suha about why Nablus doesn't have a cinema. Said says that he and others burned down the cinema. in a demonstration against Israel for not allowing people from the West Bank to work in Israel. In their discussion of movie genres Suha says that Said's life is surely not boring, and even though he doesn't have much, it is as dramatic and rich as a Japanese minimalist painting. After confirming that Suha's father is in fact, Abu Azzam's daughter. (This probably helps explain the up-scale house she lives in and her birth in Morocco where his Abu Azzam's wife was probably sent to protect her from the revenge attacks from Israel that usually befall the families of Palestinian fighters. France, where Suha was educated, is also significant here since France has generally supported the Palestinian cause more than the U.S. has over the decades since Israel's creation and especially since the 1967 war. Surprisingly to Said, Suha says that she would rather her father be alive today than to have to feel pride for his dying for the Palestinian cause. She says, "There are always other ways to keep the cause alive." Said disagrees and says that "[Israel's military] occupation defines the resistance." Suha insists that "Resistance can take on many forms." "But we must accept that we have no military might. . . . in order to find alternatives." Said rebukes her assessment that they must find other forms of resistance given that they don't have any military might. He asks her how she expects the Palestinians to "pay the price for our grandparents' defeat?" "[And] accept the injustice?" She refuses to comment and sees that the discussion "is going nowhere". Her comments have at least given Said some food for thought and he departs, both of them agreeing that they should meet again.
Chapter 6. Khaled and Said prepare to go to the meeting to prepare for the mission. Khaled explains to someone how during the first Intifada (1987), Israeli soldiers broke into their house and broke one of his father's legs of his choice. Khaled's expresses his feelings, "I would've let them break both rather than be so humiliated." Said discusses his father with his mother before he leaves her. She assures him that his father was only trying to help his family by being an Israeli collaborator (informant) and that he was an honorable man. (Jamal, the operative listens in the background).
Chapter 7: On the way to the meeting, Jamal and Said walk through the ruins of the bombed out refugee apartments and he tries to reaffirm Said's commitment to the mission by asking, "What can you do when there is no justice or freedom?" He answers his own question stating, "The individual has to fight for it." If we give in to the law that the strong devours the weak . . . then we reduce ourselves to the level of animals. That's intolerable. Death is better than inferiority. Whoever fights for freedom can also die for it." "You are the one who will change things," he assures Said. "Now it's our turn," Said and Khaled reassure each other when they meet in the place they will prepare for their mission.
A key to considering this scene might be to compare the circumstances in India in which Gandhi led his non-violent movement against the British. Gandhi had freedom of the press to give voice to his movement's complaints. The British legal system also, at least on paper, were supposed to stand for equal justice under law.
28:00 The failed video-taped message of farewell and reason for dying by Khaled. Note the religious justification from the start. God says, "If you receive a wound, the people have received a similar one." God chooses the martyrs from among the people. "God does not love the unjust." . . . [To fight the injustices of the occupation,] "I have decided to carry out a martyr operation." Khaled continues reading from the script that there are no other options since, "Israel views partnership and equality for the Palestinians . . . under the same democratic system . . . as suicide for the Jewish state. Nor will they accept a two state compromise . . . even though [the deal] is not fair to the Palestinians [based on the pre-1967 borders]. We are to either accept the occupation forever or disappear. He argues that all political and peaceful means have failed to bring an end to the occupation. "Despite it all, Israel has continues to build settlements." In Said's video later, he states, "our bodies are all we have left to fight with," his justification for a suicide attack. (a side note: in 2005, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip and dismantled settlements while at the same time increasing settlement construction in the West Bank and other occupied territories. This is one of the major sticking points blocking a peace settlement between them. Two other big issues are the construction of a barrier wall between Israel and the Palestinian territories that puts more Palestinian territory onto the Israeli side; and the unwillingness to share Jerusalem with Palestinians, even though the city has a majority Palestinian population.) Israel insists on "confiscat[ing] land, Judaiz[ing] Jerusalem and carry[ing] out ethnic cleansing. The scene continues on a humorous note, and, as the onlookers have a snack, Khaled even thinks of something he wants to remind his mother to do -- to stock up on some inexpensive water filters.
Chapter 8: Ritual bathing, shaving, prayer and feasting before the mission. Interestingly, this process is comparable to the rituals performed for the Kamikaze who flew their planes into American ships during Japan's last gasp against U.S. forces. In both cases the act is considered a holy act.
The bomb builder has obviously had his hands blown off in a mishap as he sweats away making the connections for this mission. One of the primary leaders of the resistance, Abu Karim) enters the scene as Said and Khaled have the bombs attached to their bodies. He tells them that "the honor is only given to a few." (according to U.S. research into Al Quaeda, also, there are so many volunteers ready to commit the act, the do in fact choose the people according to who will have the most probability of success in completing the mission. This information contradicts earlier U.S. intelligence that would be suicide bombers come exclusively from poor refugee camps where people are completely desperate. Khaled's wish, that "his family won't be made to pay for this" is a reality as Israel usually quickly bombs the family home of the bomber as soon as he is identified. Palestinian police stations are also bombed frequently in retaliation. Often, the families of these bombers receive money from outside foreign sources. Sadam Hussein, for example sent money to the families of suicide bombers while he was in power.
In order to avoid capture and interrogation of the bombers, the bombs have been designed to detonate when their removal is attempted by anyone but them.
Chapter 9: On the way to the rendezvous site, Jamal makes some interesting, or ironic lines, lines as he encourages Said and Khaled to look the soldiers in the eyes and pull the detonation cord early if necessary. "If you're not afraid of death, you're in control of life." . . . and, in order to avoid the shock of seeing the other one blow-up, he warns them not to watch him do it. Said asks what will happen afterward and Jamal hesitates before saying that "two angels will come to pick them up."
While they wait to be given the go-ahead to begin their journey to carry out the mission Said asks Khaled if they are doing the right thing? . . . "Is there no other way to stop them?" Ironically Khaled questions the myth that one's life passes like a movie in front of someone's who's about to die, while he accepts unquestioningly the notion that they will go to heaven as soon as they die. When the driver arrives, Jamal tells them that the driver is an Israeli who is "well paid" for his services. (There are certainly collaborators on both sides; and, as this case seems to suggest, double agents too.)
Chapter 10. The mission begins but quickly falls apart when the driver apparently signals to a waiting military vehicle. Helicopters are not far behind as Said and Khaled get separated on their run back. Said is left behind.
Chapter 11. While Khaled gets his bomb taken off back at the tile factory, Said decides whether or not to detonate his bomb as his Plan B at a bus station. His decision against doing so may have been influenced by his notice of a little girl near the driver. (Indeed, numerous bombings take place on Israeli buses in which many innocent bystanders, women and children, often Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories, are the victims.)
Chapter 12. Back at the Palestinian resistance operations, they quickly find out that Said must not have been killed, since no news of that nature was been released. The only other possibilities are that, either he was captured and is not being interrogated, or he escaped. In either case, the operations are in jeopardy, hence the haste in finding him at all costs. Khaled insists that he would not betray them. Anyone who had contact with him could be at risk also because, if he was captured, his identity might become known and retaliation against his friends, family, and employer might take place at any time. All of the "fighters" are scattered as a precaution in case their operations facilities are bombed as is often the case after a suicide attack in Israel.
The topic of water filters comes up again in the Said's taxi ride to the tile factory, the point of operations from which they began the day. "All the filters in the world couldn't clean the water," the driver adds to the radio commercial for water filters, "that's polluted by the [Israeli] settlers."
Chapter 13: Khaled convinces the resistance to let him go looking for Said. It is implied that he has until the end of the day to find Said or they might be killed or their operations cancelled for good to protect the identities of the fighters.
Said goes to the tile factory and then Khaled's home. Khaled has to lose some operatives who are tailing him. Khaled gives his cell phone number to Said's mother. Said almost checks in with his mother but decides against it. People they are contacting begin to get suspicious because their suits and haircuts make them look more like Israeli settlers than Palestinians. Said attempts to calm himself by reciting the fatalistic phrases as: "You cannot alter your fate. There is no other way. It's God's Will."
Chapter 14: Said visits the body-shop looking for Khaled and runs into Suha who insists on replacing his watch. When in the watch repair shop, which is also the photo shop, Suha asks about the videos that are for sale and for rent. She notices that the video is a martyr's farewell speech. The shop owners says that they also have videos for sale or rent of interrogations of collaborators ("confessions of the collaborators before they're shot" as well. Suha is shocked that the videos of the collaborators and martyrs go for the same price and the owner says he could get even more for the collaborators' videos. (Being that her father was a martyr, the whole situation must indeed seem surreal if not disgusting.)
Chapter 15: While Khaled is waiting he watches two boys trying to get their kite to fly without any wind and recalls the afternoon before when he and Said were on the same hill looking out over the city.
Said and Suha debate the normalcy (or morality) of the selling and renting of the martyr/collaborator videos. Said retorts, "What's normal around here?" Suha: "It's sick. Three million people are struggling to survive [under the Occupation]. Nablus [the West Bank city they are in] has become like a prison. I don't know what I'm doing here. What a load of . . . Said interrupts her exhortation with the confession that, "[His] father was a collaborator . . . [who was] executed [when he was] ten [years old.] This information seems to shock Suha who says that she is sorry; but Said assures her that there is no need to feel sorry for him. Suha wonders how she dealt with it over the years and Said says it wasn't as bad as she might think. He doesn't think talking about it will help in any way. "The whole world knows [that his father was a collaborator]. Said insists that she could not understand his situation being from a privileged neighborhood and having lived abroad, to know what it is like growing up in a refugee camp and having your father executed as a collaborator. A sense of estrangement between them seems confirmed by the less than mutually impassioned kiss he offers her. Said dashes out of the car and Sula realizes the tragic shattering of their relationship despite his sincerity. She runs into Khaled who is still looking for Said. After lashing out at him she finds out about their mission and accompanies Khaled in the trip to Said's father's grave where they think he must be. Suha begs to know why they are so insistent upon doing the mission. Khaled is still convinced of the legitimacy of the mission: "If we [(the Israelis and Palestinians)] 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? For Example." Suha: "Then at least the Israelis don't have an excuse to keep on killing [if you don't conduct suicide bombings]. Khaled: "Don't be so naive. There can be no freedom without struggle." (sounds like the phrase in America, "Freedom isn't free. Our ancestors had to die fighting for it.") Khaled continues: "As long as there is injustice, someone must make a sacrifice." Suha: "That's no 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: "There is no paradise. It only exists in your head," as she slaps him on the head. Khaled: "God forbid!" "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 one's 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 [for revenge], Israel will stop?" Suha: "Perhaps." Suha: We have to turn it into a moral war. Khaled: "How, if Israel has no morals?" Suha: (a head-on collision is narrowly averted) Be careful! Or we'll become traffic martyrs!" (They stop 50 meters from a checkpoint) Khaled, yells "Bastards!" before taking a shortcut to a dirt road below to continue their journey to find Said.
Chapter 16: Said is lying on his father's grave contemplating detonating his bomb his explosive when Khaled and Suha find him and chase him until they capture him and take him back to the compound where Jamal and the fighters are.
An interrogation of Said proceeds. Jamal consoles Khaled while Said and the leader of the resistance speak. The leader admonishes Said.: "Listen Said, You know what this cost us, and how many risks we took." Said says he's sorry and the leader tells him that he can go home. Said proceeds to tell him his life's story: "I was born in a refugee camp. I was allowed to leave the West Bank only 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. 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 [exploiting his weakness], 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're 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. There 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 victim . . . then I have no other choice but to also be a victim and a murderer as well. I don't know how you'll decide . . . but I will not return to the refugee camp.
Sula appears to be held in the same operations compound perhaps due to her knowledge of the mission and the potential for her leaking information about it. Since her father was one of the leaders of the resistance, it is likely that she has their trust, however.
Chapter 18. Tel Aviv urban skyline on the way to the mission. In the car, Said apologizes to Khaled as they pass Tel Aviv skyscrapers, huge billboards: a Samsung cell phone held out by a male model, another body-builder representing a gym advertising a gorgeous body. This urban, cosmopolitan lifestyle certainly stands in contrast to the life under Israeli Occupation. Life along the beach, a long decorative avenue overlooking the Ocean; western bikini clad women. After embarking on from the car, Khaled pursues Said and Said asks why he is here. "To be with you. Let's go back," he tells Said. He continues: "Suha was right. We won't win this way." Said: We do what we have to. God decides the rest. Khaled: "But God says, "Think first." We kill and are killed, and nothing changes." Said: "Not our death, but the continuation of resistance will change something." "I have no other option." Khaled: And if it doesn't change anything? Answer me." "There are other means of liberation and resistance." Said: "Perhaps for others." Khaled: "For you too. You're coming back with me. I won't let you die." "You're coming back with me. Give me the phone." Khaled calls the driver back on the phone; Said agrees at least on the phone. When the car arrives, he closes the door after Khaled and tells the driver to go. Suha is looking at Said's picture and turns it over face down as she realizes his moment is close. Jamal seems to be contemplating the developments too, after this long ordeal of trying to make the operation work. The leader, puts on his coat and readies to leave and contemplate the next move of the resistance. Said's mother seems to know that her son is about to die. Khaled is sobbing in the car. He is certainly sobbing for Said and possibly for himself as he realizes his options upon his return. He may suffer some worse fate for jeopardizing the mission. He may not go back at all and may be interrogated by Israel. On the bus full of a a few civilians and many young soldiers, the camera slowly zooms to Said's eyes. No sound, only a blank screen.
Why did decide that there were no other options for him?
What are the possibilities for Khaled's future?
Said's mother? Family? Employer?
What possible options could there be for giving voice and action to Palestinians under military Occupation for three decades?
To what extent can the Palestinian/Israeli crisis comparable to the South African Apartheid crisis. Any applicable lessons for a potential resolution to Palestinian/Israeli tensions?
Recent events: Less than a year after this film came out, Israel left the Gaza Strip. The West Bank is still occupied and settlements expand in other territories. Hamas, the most violent Palestinian faction won the last election. America has cut off all funding for them because the will not renounce violence until Israel quits the Occupation. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and some European countries are now funding the Palestinian government. Israel refuses to negotiate with Hamas because of its unwillingness to disarm and renounce violence.