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.