Sunday, November 8, 2015

Movie with Abe: Theeb

Directed by Naji Abu Nowar
Released November 6, 2015

The Middle East is a complicated place, and today’s conflicts have reached a particularly volatile height. The region has a storied history, one populated with just as much internal and external strife as currently exists today. “Theeb” sets its events in 1916 in an Ottoman Empire province while World War I is at its height and bandits and mercenaries are even more dangerous than enemy forces. A young Bedouin boy with a great knowledge of the desert is at the center of this isolating, harrowing journey that endows him with infinite life experience in a short period of time.

Theeb (Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat), which translates to “wolf,” is the younger brother of Hussein (Hussein Salameh Al-Sweilhiyeen), and both are members of a Bedouin community with an uncanny familiarity with their surroundings, which to any visitor might seem simply like endless desert. A British officer arrives and requests to be guided through the desert by Hussein, and, naturally, Theeb cannot resist tagging along, staying back from the group as he follows the officer towards his unknown destination. Disaster quickly strikes as repeated warnings about the danger of where they are going are confirmed by the presence of vicious attacking raiders, and Theeb must do what he can to survive that and subsequent encounters.

“Theeb” takes tremendous advantages of its vast and indiscernible surroundings to amplify the effect of the trek its protagonist takes, as daylight brings an enormity of caves, cliffs, and indistinguishable directions, and nightfall brings a sense of truly being lost as there is nothing at all that can be seen without lights. Before the group begins its trip, talk is heard of the train interrupting the simple lifestyle of the place, and this story is very much a timeless one, dismissing technology as irrelevant as it applies to anything but guns, the one modern development seen in the film.

“Theeb” is described on IMBD as belonging to the adventure, drama, and thriller genres. While the first recalls something like Indiana Jones, a comparison worthwhile because of the setting, costumes, and British influence, this hardly contains the same excitement and intrigue. Not much happens over the course of the film, which is, of course, the point, as Theeb cannot speed through the rough path that he must take towards survival with all odds against him. Ultimately, Jordan’s Oscar entry for Best Foreign Film starts out on an intriguing note with a strong resolve but never manages to be as gripping or involving as it wants to be.


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