Wednesday, February 26, 2014

OMAR - 1 nomination


Foreign Language Film - Reported by the Academy as the submission from "Palestine"

Omar tells the story of a young member of a terrorist group living in the West Bank who, with his two friends Tarik and Amjad, go in the middle of the night to a base for the Israeli Defense Forces and shoot and kill a soldier from their concealed spot in the woods.  Omar is caught by the IDF and while imprisoned, is tricked into implicating himself for being an accomplice to the crime.  Meanwhile, he is in love with Nadia, Tarik's sister, and he dreams of marrying her and starting a life together, so he agrees to act as a double agent for the army as they try to round up Tarik, who is the head of the terrorist group in order to gain his release from prison.  He remains loyal to the group and immediately reveals what the army wants him to do, but the group figures out that there is indeed an informant in the mix.  He also discovers that he has a rival for Nadia's affections in Amjad, who would equally do anything to win her, and to get Tarik's approval for marriage.

I am incredulous at this film's nomination, first and foremost because of the major holes in the story.  Before I even address the propaganda in the film, it is impossible to miss that there are so many big, implausible, illogical plot points for which we are asked to suspend disbelief that it is difficult to understand how this became an Oscar nominee.  It is just a cartoon of a film in which all Israelis are the caricature equivalents of Dastardly Dan tying the innocent damsel to the train tracks, and all Palestinians are simple people trying to live their lives in peace, even when they are planning murders of IDF soldiers.  We are asked to disregard the fact that Omar, himself, volunteers to act as sniper without a single thought when Amjad, the shooter, is agonizing about pulling the trigger.  We are asked to applaud Omar that he never betrays his cause and will set up an ambush to murder the extraction team who wants to arrest the leader of the terrorist group (Tarik) who orders the times and places of murders of Israelis.  

The movie hopes that we will miss the fact that when Omar is imprisoned, that he is provided a lawyer for free, that the Israelis acknowledge that they need evidence to charge and hold him, and that let's face it, were the situation reversed, there would be no justice system for captured Israelis, merely executions.  And, the biggest problem of all, we are asked to draw a moral equivalence between being used as an operative for the Israeli army in order to capture known terrorist leaders and murdering a person in the dead of night.  This is too big of a leap for me to make, and in the end, all I had for this film was stunned and angry silence.  Let's hope that smart people are not so easily manipulated.

Haven't seen the film?
Watch the Omar Movie Trailer

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