Paradise Now (2005)

Paradise Now

Paradise Now (2005), a film about two best friends recruited for a suicide bombing, is different in its portrayal of Arabs.  First of all, the protagonists are both Arabs.  Before the 1980’s, as Shohat points out in her book, Arabs did not have lines and were rarely seen except in long shots.  In contrast, this movie does not give Israelis any lines and rarely shows them close up.   Also, this film defies the good Arab/ bad Arab stereotype in that basically all the characters in this film would be considered bad Arabs, as they are against the occupation.  However, far from being seen as bad people, they are sympathetically portrayed.  Through the film the audience learns the reasons behind these peoples actions- how they are oppressed, cannot find decent work, and live in substandard conditions.  Basically, the audience learns how the occupation has ruined all their lives.  However, they cannot effectively fight back, as the Israeli army is bigger and stronger.  The only way that they believe they can protest is through acts like suicide bombings.  This is a very different view of the reasons behind suicide bombings.  Instead of simply being religious fanatics who are crazy, suicide bombers are shown as sincerely believing that there is nothing for them in the occupied world and that their sacrifice will show Israel how harmful the occupation is and hopefully, eventually, end it.

Obviously, this movie has a clear political message- that the occupation is wrong and should be ended.  Having this different perspective is a step in the right direction, as most movies do not question Israel’s moral superiority.  In fact, most films portray Israelis, not Palestinians, as the victims.  In stark contrast, this film shows Israelis as the oppressors and Palestinians as the victims.  It is an interesting perspective to consider.

If you are interested in this film, there is a link on trunk under resources to watch it.  Also, here is the trailer.

This entry was posted in Islam & Religion, Israel, Out-of-Class Media Post, Palestinian Authority, Theatre & Film and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Paradise Now (2005)

  1. This sounds like a movie that is definitely worth watching!
    What particular signs in the movie do you think sends the message that the film makers want the occupation to end? What was going on in Israel/Palestine at the time when it was made? Is there a sense of East/West in this movie like in the Israeli movies that Shohat discussed? Also, do you think that there is a reason why the producer picked the topic of suicide bombers to portray the Palestinian characters?

  2. There are many signs in the movie that indicate its position on the occupation. First of all, it portrays how depressing the lives of these Palestinians are as a result of the occupation taking away opportunities. Without explicitly saying it, the movie indicates that the occupation is ruining peoples’ lives. It position on the occupation is even clearer in the arguments between the two friends and a woman whose father died for the cause. They disagree about how their dissatisfaction with the occupation should be expressed, but they all agree that the occupation needs to end. These are just a few ways that the movie expresses its political message.
    I am not sure of the exact interactions between Palestine and Israel at this time other than Israel was occupying territories inhabited by Palestinians and oppressing the Palestinians in them. However, I do know that filming on location was extremely problematic with bombs and bullets flying around them. The location manager was even kidnapped at one point. If you want to read more about this, the link is
    The best example of east/west in this film is the huge contrast between Nablus and Tel Aviv. Nablus is very traditional, with women staying home to cook and wearing headscarves. In contrast, Tel Aviv is more modern with advertisements, girls in bikinis, and color everywhere.
    There are many reasons why suicide bombers are an excellent topic for this film. First of all, it gives the film an excuse to constantly talk about politics. Also, it is the stereotype many people have of Palestinians. By making these characters different in every way, except their job, from the traditional idea of suicide bombers, the stereotype’s implications are lessened. In addition, through making characters who are planning on taking peoples’ lives sympathetic, it does not take much on the part of the viewer to sympathize with all Palestinians. Therefore, suicide bombers as a subject was an excellent decision.

  3. I enjoyed this movie because it provide a back door into the life of the stereotypes of “The bad Arab”. Instead of presenting us with a Day in the Life of a suicide bomber we are introduced to their friends, family and life outside of politics. Currently, some forms of media only depict one-sided information to an topic that has three dimensions. The film, Paradise Now gives insight and provides us with a 3-D story.

  4. I also watched this film and I think that it was most successful in explaining- while not justifying- the actions of suicide bombers in Israel/Palestine. As foreigners, we are unable to fully comprehend what life is like under occupation– just as Suha, the foreign-born Palestinian in the film seemed unable to– and this film at least helps us to see where these young men were coming from when they chose to become suicide bombers. Because of its message, I think the movie was definitely aimed at a foreign audience that often hears about suicide bombings and brushes them off as radical terrorist attacks, not questioning the complicated reasoning behind them. I agree that the film calls for an end to the occupation– specifically because Palestinians are at a loss for how to protest effectively, and if nothing changes, they may continue to pursue violent methods.

  5. Pingback: Paradise Now (2005) Additional Thoughts | Culturing Media

  6. I just have an interesting side thought that I was curious to see if other people had analyzed:

    In the film I noticed several biblical references. Of course the one that jumped out at me first is the title- Paradise Now seems like a play on Paradise Lost, which is a poem by Milton that deals with Adam and Eve’s fall from the Garden of Eden. It seems like an interesting choice by the writer to not only place the film in a relationship with this (much) earlier text, but also with this classical creation myth. Later in the film, I noticed that when Said and Khaled sit down to their “last meal” in the tile factory, the scene is set as though in recreation of the “Last Supper” as portrayed by Leonardo da Vinci. The two suicide bombers are seated in the center of the long table, where Jesus sits in the painting, placing them in comparison or perhaps even equality with the epitome of martyrdom himself. This conveys an interesting message about the act they are about to commit itself, and about themselves as people as a result.

    But this is about as far as I’ve gotten, and I don’t feel that I am familiar enough with the Bible or the history of Christianity to comment further. Any thoughts?

  7. Just like everyone mentioned above, the idea of the “good/bad Arab” is really exemplified in this movie. Aesthetically is does a fantastic job attracting the audience, be it Israeli, Palestinian or international. There are so many nuanced details in the movie that hint towards this idea of the bad Arab, however, like you mentioned we are sympathetic towards the Palestinian Arabs. The movie plays with so many stereotypes, especially when the Palestinians cross the borders and people perceive them differently. I would recommend this movie to anyone interested (or even not so interested) in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

  8. Hoai Le says:

    “As long as there is injustice, there must be sacrifice. I would rather have paradise in my heart than live in this hell.” This quote really struck me when I watched the movie. I think it aptly portrays the characters’ desperation which you explained in your post. Rather than live without dignity, they have opted for immediate death/paradise – and hence the movie’s title.

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