UNDER THE BOMBS (Philippe Aractingi, 2007)

Nada Abou Farhat won best actress prizes at Dubai and Bratislava for her hysterical emoting as Zeina, a wealthy divorced Shiite mother frantically searching for her six-year-old son in southern Lebanon during the 2006 Lebanon War. Written by Philippe Aractingi, the film’s director, who himself was born in Beirut, and Michel Léviant, who has worked extensively in French television (although the film has become semi-famous for having had a largely improvised script), Sous les bombes is so geopolitically malnourished that it fails to explain the aims and actions of the paramilitary group Hezbollah and Lebanon’s failure to neutralize this pack of murderers, and therefore leaves the false impression that Israel’s 33-day bombing campaign was an unmotivated assault rather than a self-defensive and retaliatory measure. It is Hezbollah that launched the war by firing rockets into Israel, according to Wikipedia, “as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence. The ambush left three soldiers dead. Two additional soldiers, believed to have been killed outright or mortally wounded, were taken by Hezbollah to Lebanon. Five more were killed in a failed rescue attempt. Israel responded with massive airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon that damaged Lebanese civilian infrastructure, including Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport (which Israel said that Hezbollah used to import weapons and supplies), an air and naval blockade, and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah then launched more rockets into northern Israel and engaged the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in guerrilla warfare from hardened positions.”
     None of this background seeps into Aractingi’s hateful film, which as a result is largely worthless. There is value in its on-location shoot showcasing the war’s devastating effect; but value is deprived it on two other closely related grounds than its lack of context: the film is visually sloppy and uninteresting, presumably, at least in part, due to its forced blend of fictional and computer graphic elements; its “love story,” between Zeina and her Christian taxi-cab driver and guide in her search for her son, seems more contrivance than an honest reflection on the ironical crucible of war. Indeed, Zeina’s separation from her son in the first place is similarly bogus and heavily forced; Zeina left the boy with her sister, we are told, to spare him the ordeal of his father’s and her divorce. Our “plot,” then, is premised in two things: family soap opera; the noxious idea that Jewish lives simply do not count. The Lebanese people themselves apparently see no causality linking their heartrending suffering and their provision of safe harbor for Hezbollah.
     Best film, Dubai.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s