Saturday, May 28, 2011


Miral / Miral. FR/IL/IT/IN © 2010 Pathé, Eran Riklis Productions, Canal+, CinéCinéma, Eagle Pictures, India Take One Productions [tbc]. EX: François-Xavier Decraene. P: Jon Kilik. D: Julian Schnabel. SC: Rula Jebreal - based on her novel La strada dei fiori di Miral (2005). DP: Eric Gautier. PD: Yoel Herzberg. Costumes: Walid Mawed. M: Olivier Daviaud. S: Adam Wolny. ED: Juliette Welfling. Casting: Yael Aviv. CAST: Freida Pinto (Miral), Hiam Abbass (Hind Hussein), Yasmine Elmasri / Al Massri (Nadia), Alexander Siddig (Jamal), Omar Metwally (Hani), Stella Schnabel (Lisa), Willem Dafoe (Eddie), Vanessa Redgrave (Bertha Spafford), Juliano Mer-Khamis (Seikh Saabah). 108 min. Released in Finland by Scanbox with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Jaana Wiik / Nina Ekholm [tbc]. DCP 2K viewed at Tennispalatsi 12, Helsinki, 28 May 2011.

Technical specs (IMDb): Camera: Aaton Penelope, Cooke S4 Lenses. - Film negative format: 35 mm (2-perf). - Cinematographic process: Techniscope. - Printed film format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Fuji Eterna-CP 3514DI). - Aspect ratio: 2.35:1.

Rest in peace: Juliano Mer-Khamis, *29 May 1958 Nazareth (West Bank, Palestine), †4 April 2011 Jenin (West Bank, Palestine). To quote English Wikipedia,  "He was shot to death in his car outside a theatre he had established in a Palestinian refugee camp".

Based on a true story, the experiences of the writer Rula Jebreal and the people who raised her, this is a compelling movie that cannot leave the spectator indifferent. A work of Jewish-Palestinian collaboration, it strikes a conciliatory note in the tradition of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.

The complex story takes us from 1948 until 1994. It does not matter that Miral is not a perfect work of art in which Julian Schnabel's signature is unrecognizable. Miral moves me, and her story is impossible to forget. No matter that some performances are clumsy, some dialogues too expository, and that there is a sense of a film à thèse.

Daringly, the film-makers have selected a Palestinian bias. The film-makers know but they don't tell us in Miral that millions of Jews were forced to find a new place to live because anti-semitic persecution went on in Europe after the Holocaust and was viciously launched in some Arab countries. They don't tell us that a Palestinian state was set by the UN to be established in 1948 but some Arab countries refused to accept it and instead started a war against Israel, which they refused to recognize. The strategy of some Arab countries until the 1967 Six Day War was to destroy Israel with military force. And that has been also the PLO, Hamas, and Fatah strategy. Not only the Palestinians but also the Israelis have lived in constant mortal peril since 1948. It is magnanimous of the film-makers to ignore all this in Miral.

I saw a DCP in 2K of Miral, shot on 35 mm film according to IMDb. Visually, Miral could have an epic look with its powerful location work. Unfortunately the low definition digital video look of the 2K dilutes the visual impact considerably. Especially potentially magnificent long shots fail to work because of this. There is a lot of needless handheld camera-shaking, and I cannot help thinking that this is to distract us from noticing the low definition of the image.

Despite this Miral presents unforgettable images of the harassment, persecution, and torture of the Palestinians. And it is not a hate-mongering film. There is a sense that a new generation may overcome the hawks and that the Oslo process can be completed. Miral is more than just a film, it is an important political act. Freida Pinto is also profoundly moving in the leading role.

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