A sad movie last night, Bush. "Paradise Now." It's the story of two young Palestinian men who aspire to be suicide bombers. I say "aspire to" because that, at the beginning of the movie, seems to be their ardent desire. There's a double edge to the operative word in the title. On the one hand, it's an ironic reference to the hell in which they live now, here on earth, in "occupied" territory--I presumed in the Gaza Strip. On the other, it's the paradise they have been promised by their faith and by the cynical, calculating bunch of politically motivated terrorists who are their handlers.
The film could have gone in either of two wrong directions. It could have gone overboard in the direction of the terrorists, devolving into an anti-Israel screed. Or it could have gone the other way, portraying the two young men as monsters. But no, it did neither of these things, and therein lies the secret of its success. It took an observant middle path, allowing us a glimpse into the tortured mind of the suicide bombers, particularly Said--a young man from a destitute family, whose father had been killed by his own people as a collaborator when he was ten years old, and who had suffered mightly from the perceived humiliation and hopelessness of life in a land considered stolen by the Israelis.
A poignant story, Bush, and one which had a lot to say about the terrible impasse in that region, where good people on both sides seems trapped between victimhood and violent aggression. It neither approves the violence nor condemns those who see no other way than to practice it--although it gives forceful voice to both views in the conflict between its characters and the inner conflict of its protagonist. The movie stands back just enough to allow us, as viewers, our own judments. Its own wisdom is to exercise remarkable compassion.
Busy day today, Bush. I'm still waiting for those final, final, final proofs of "The Real Bush Diaries," and Ellie and I are leading a group tour of current exhibits at the museum. See you later.