There is another hobby of mine besides reading books that is to watch world cinema movie.
It didn’t occur to me that I would be writing movie reviews which are not adapted from a book on my blog but Caroline@Beauty is a sleeping cat is running a World Cinema series 2013 and so I thought why can’t a book blogger talks about movies he or she watch? So here it is. My inaugural movie review (which is not adapted from a book that I read).
I watched When Pigs Have Wings (Le Cochon de Gaza) (2011) the other day.
It is about a fisherman in Gaza, Jafaar (played by Sasson Gabay), finds a live 100-pound pig in his nets. (In my mind I thought a pig would be the pinkish creature we have in the UK but this one is black!) as pig being a forbidden animal (haram) in the religion of Islam, he will be in trouble if anyone finds out about this.
The pig’s arrival complicates life for Jafaar, who first attempts to hide it from his wife Fatima (Baya Belal) and because Jafaar hasn’t been able to catch any fish and he is very poor, he then attempts to unload the pig onto a United Nations official (Ulrich Tukur) by offering to sell him the pig as pork. Jaafar is persuaded by his local barber (Gassan Abbas) to get a gun to kill the pig but Jaafar couldn’t do it. Then someone gave Jaafar the idea that he should sell the pig to Yelena (Myriam Tekaia), a young Russian-Jewish farm worker with whom he communicates through a wire fence. She insists that what she needs is not the pig itself but its semen for pig-breeding purposes.
The movie started with this really absurd idea of a pig caught in the net and then a string of hilarious yet tragic and sad incident that happened in Jaafar’s life. Through this comedy, we saw how Jaafar queue up at the checkpoint, how the dialogue amplifies the issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict (“What do you mean don’t bring the pig here to defile your land? It is my land too!”), how corrupted the Palestinian police is. How a family olive tree was sacrificed to make way for settlement. Jafaar is played convincingly by Sasson Gabay, destitute, pitiful and hasn’t have much of a brain, I ended up feeling really sorry for him.
The movie is a Franco-German-Belgian co-production, working on a shoestring budget, debuting director Sylvain Estibal has conjured up a political parable with satirical bite. The action is set on the eve of Israel’s voluntary disengagement from Gaza in 2005. Viewers who are familiar with the Israel-Palestinian conflict will find many familiar grounds and the satire that the movie conjure, such as Gaza Fishermen are not allowed to fish 10km beyond the shore of Gaza, therefore there is very few chances they could make a good catch in a confined waters. I am impressed with the fact that the comedy successfully convey a message of peace so eloquently and left me laughing out loud one minute, sad the next, feeling the plot ludicrous the next, understood the political agenda another minute. I thought it was a good use of comedy to de-mystify the Arab-Israeli differences.
There were tense moments when comedy is mixed with terror when Jaafar has a brush with the local Islamist militants. The militants learning of Jafaar’s activities, accuse him of siding with the enemy on the grounds that the pigs Yelena is breeding are used for demeaning purposes. Jaafar found himself in a situation that he either commits an atrocity or die under a bullet triggered by his own hand. In the end, I thought the local Islamists are just as oppressive as the ruling force.
The directors portrayed both sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict impartially. The take away from the movie is “why can’t we all just get along”. Despite the movie being shot in Malta, I thought every scene was convincingly Mediterranean and Palestinian. It is a story of slapstick humour but has its heart in the right place.
If you want to watch a movie about Israeli-Palestinian conflict without the blood, gore, war and the sorrow. I think this movie is worth 90 minutes of your time.
p/s: Do you know pigs could smell out hidden explosive? I thought that is so cool.