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Movies Review

When Pigs Have Wings (Le Cochon de Gaza) (2011)

When pigs have wingsThere 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.

When pigs have wings 1

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.


Yelena and Jaafar doing their business transaction over the wire fence

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. 😀

About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


9 thoughts on “When Pigs Have Wings (Le Cochon de Gaza) (2011)

  1. Thanks so much for contributing. It sounds like a movie I would like to watch a lot. The Lemon Tree had a similar conflict as a theme but it was made in a completely different form. Not funny at all.
    I saw it was a Franco- German… coprodcution but I will still file it under Palestin or what do you think? We had this dicussion before. When there is a co-prodcution it can be very difficult to decide. They speak Arabic?
    If you’d rather I add it as a FRench movie, just let me know.

    Posted by Caroline | June 10, 2013, 3:10 pm
    • Hi Caroline,
      Thanks for visiting. It is definitely Palestine. The movie speaks Hebrew and Arabic, but the latter mostly. Forget about the country of production! Big thanks! 🙂

      Posted by JoV | June 10, 2013, 3:31 pm
  2. I keep meaning to do a movie review but never get to it ,thanks for sharing not heard of this one and it sounds like a clever satire ,all the best stu

    Posted by winstonsdad | June 10, 2013, 3:11 pm
    • Stu,
      It is a clever satire, although I am careful to recommend to anyone who doesn’t like slapstick comedy. One must get the political setting to be able to appreciate this one. Look forward to your first movie review.

      Posted by JoV | June 10, 2013, 3:32 pm
  3. I hadn’t heard of this movie either, but you’ve convinced me that it might be fun. In any event, l’ll stay tuned for future movie reviews from you here!

    Posted by Richard | June 28, 2013, 3:34 am
  4. Ah, I watched this film and it is definitely very funny and I found myself enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would do. The ending I felt was all to perfect and cheesy, but a nice kind of wishful thinking message.

    Posted by Fiona | September 11, 2013, 12:35 am


  1. Pingback: World Cinema Series 2013 – Wrap up and Winner Announcement | Beauty is a Sleeping Cat - December 28, 2013

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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