Palestinian ‘Paradise Now’ — box office bomb

There’s “nothing unusual about cinema portraying the psychodrama of real-life events torn from headlines,” Toronto Star writer Rosie Dimanno observed in a January review, noting that many films (such as Monster, In Cold Blood and Silence of the Lambs) traffic “in murder verite and the particular pathology of killers without conscience.”

Dimanno was in the process of trashing Karla, Hollywood’s exploitative treatment of the Bernardo-Homolka killings, but her comments might equally apply to another recent controversial film: the Palestinian-made Paradise Now, which also glorifies wannabe and actual mass murderers.

Paradise Now weaves a realistic tale about two Palestinians from Nablus who volunteer to bomb Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv, chronicling the progress of the two pilgrims on the twisted path to martyrdom. The film humanizes suicide bombers and is premised on the notion that “suicide bomber” is a viable career choice.

It’s noteworthy that Britain banned Paradise Now from being shown at a festival last July shortly after the terror attacks on London’s transit system. However, the film’s reputation has been buoyed by a Golden Globe award and Oscar nomination as best foreign film.

Given Hollywood’s strong leftist sympathies, the film may yet come away with a coveted golden statue in a day and age when Hamas is victorious in the voting booth and Western democracies bend over backwards to appease enraged Arab mobs offended at seeming trifles.

The troubling film asserts “that suicide murder is legitimate when you feel you have exhausted all other means,” observes Yossi Zur in an internet letter. Zur is not a film critic, just an Israeli who lost a teenaged son to a suicide murderer. He calls Paradise Now “extremely dangerous” because it also justifies the case where a suicide murderer kills 100,000 people with a suitcase nuke or biological bomb.

“Is that still legitimate? Where does one draw the line?” he says, pondering whether Americans would so readily embrace a film that humanizes the perpetrators of 9/11.
“Granting an award to this kind of movie gives the filmmakers a seal of approval to hide behind,” he writes.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is reportedly considering revising its description of the film to reflect that it came not from “Palestine” but from the the territory of the Palestinian Authority. That correction is certainly welcome, but it’s unfortunate the Academy nominated such an objectionable film in the first place. ♦

© 2006