Miral - Lost in the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict

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Miral - Lost in the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict

For anyone familiar with the Palestinian narrative, Julian Schnabel's controversial film, Miral, is in not a shocking story. Schnabel even makes some efforts to give some balance and not make all Jews evil and all Arabs saints. The film is based on the real life accounts of Rula Jebreal, on whom the character of the protagonist (Played by Frieda Pinto) is based. Apart from one horrific torture scene, the story is not far off from what most interested parties know about the absurd situation between Israelis and Palestinians.

The real shocker to me is the weak narrative of the film. After his wonderful work on The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Schnabel's directing is beyond disappointing. The film does not go much beyond cliches and classic propaganda. The story is filled with unresolved characters (such as William Dafoe's character that appears in a few random scenes,) shockingly low production values, and he even manages to get a horrible performance out of the wonderful Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass. His stylistic cinematography often does not fit the atmosphere and is even distracting. In general, the film simply feels like a train wreck.

Much of the messiness of the film can be related to the odd relationship said to be had between Schnabel and Jebreal. Talk from the set of the film claims that she controlled the directing of the film, and Schnabel was just a pawn in the production. The production was so out of control, that even the lead Israeli producer, who does not shy away from controversy, removed his name from this international film.

Despite the disappointing storytelling and cinematic approach, the film does depict the Palestinian narrative that is often overlooked by the American public. Understanding this perspective is crucial for the hope of a resolution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However misguided the film and even the perspective might be, this is the voice of the Palestinian perspective, which might be truly anti-Israel, but nevertheless a sincere and present perspective.

No story of conflict has one side, and it is important to hear the multitude of voices in this story if a resolution is ever to be found. Sadly, Mr. Schnabel is supporting a Boycott against Israeli Arts and Academia and would not show the film at The Other Israel Film Festival even if it wanted to. By supporting a boycott, Schnabel is not engaging in the crucial conversation that he is raising in the film. Like the film, Schnabel presents a misguided approach to a crucial topic.

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