March 4, 2006 -- “Paradise Now” is a tale about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict told from the Palestinian point of view for a change. While it fails to make a compelling argument for terrorism, it is a compelling story nonetheless.
Two suicide bombers spend their final hours on earth trying to decide whether or not to carry out their bombing mission. Along the way, the arguments for and against Palestinian terrorism are made. The conditions the Palestinians live in are explored. In the end, however, it is personal and family history as well as psychological factors which are more crucial in determining their final decisions than either politics or religion.
It seems the movie is trying to make the argument that every problem the Palestinians have is the fault of the Israelis. One might as well blame the prophet Mohammed, Abraham, or the Nazis, or the people who refused permission for the Jews to return to their homelands after World War II. One can certainly blame both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, as well as U.S., European and Russian leaders for their misguided policies and meddling in Middle Eastern politics.
There is an interesting little dig at the Christians in one scene as the suicide bombers are spiritually prepared for their mission. They are carefully bathed and groomed. Later, as they prepare for their last supper, all the participants line up along a long table, just like in the famous Leonardo DaVinci painting. Very cute. There is a big difference between allowing oneself to be sacrificed, and murdering others in the process of sacrificing oneself, however.
The Palestinian argument is that they don't have necessary weapons of war to carry on a regular military campaign and that suicide bombing is their only option. Actually, they do have some military hardware and neighboring countries have launched conventional wars against Israel repeatedly without much success. In those wars it seemed that the Israelis, not the Palestinians were the ones fighting as if their lives depended upon the outcome. Suicide bombing certainly won't dislodge the Israelis. It will make them more intractable. If the Palestinians ever do get the best of the Israelis, they will have to do it the old fashioned way. They will have to fight a real war with them and win it. This film rates a B.
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