السينما البديلة والوعي السياسي: نماذج / Alternative Cinema and Political Consciousness: Examples
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Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics
[In these reviews of a number of films by Arab, European and American filmmakers, Edward Said articulates his position on the notion of alternative cinema and its role in image-making and in cultural struggle. He discusses Wedding in Galilee by the Palestinian director Michel Khleifi and Friendship's Death, directed by Peter Wollen. Said points out the issues raised by Khleifi's film, namely, that the Palestinian problem is not exclusively the outcome of Israeli occupation, but is also a manifestation of social ills in Arab society of our time. He is critical of Khleifi's orientalist scenes and abrupt montage while approving his touches of verismo and visionary clarity. Friendship's Death, on the other hand, is an avant-garde science fiction film which succeeds in its brilliant montage and final scenes in voicing grief and awe about the Palestinian tragedy. The two films, different as they are, transform the Palestinian problem into an almost mystical drama of sacrifice, and thus contribute to an alternative presentation of the issue. Another film that has had an impact by humanizing the Palestinians is Costa-Gavras' Hanna K. The film foregrounds the injustice on which Israel is founded. It is a film that dares to differ by offering a version of the struggle that challenges the media's misinformation and claims. Although the film is based on a love story involving a Palestinian and his Israeli lawyer, the Palestinian actor raises the drama to a political pitch. Edward Said also examines films on Egypt and the way Egypt gets represented in the United States. He criticizes the appropriation and staging of Egypt by such prestigious institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in New York City). Referring to the series of films shown to celebrate the Egyptian wing in the early eighties, Said attacks the underlying significance and ideological bias of these Hollywood films. The biblical film epics, for example, implicitly equate ancient Israel with present-day America, constructing sympathies by appealing to chauvinistic analogies, thus Americanizing the Hebrew prophets while orientalizing the Egyptians against whom they are pitted. By analyzing the films, catalogues and lectures of this event, Said shows how modern Egypt with its living population has been obliterated; its revolutionary position in the Third World bypassed, and its image of past glories divorced from its presence. In such a context, showing a film as significant as Shadi Abdel Salam's The Mummy is lost to the audience, and is dismissed as an example of local color. Neither its hauntingly beautiful shots nor its political message are registered. The film, in its own symbolic fashion, is highly critical of the collaboration between indigenous elites and foreign imperialists. Yet this point is completely drowned in the museum's celebrations revolving around Egypt. The context can orient and overwhelm the spectators and thus can function as disinformation. Said explains the intricate points suggested by the film narrative and the mode of their cinematic incorporation, in an effort to draw attention to a different viewpoint and an alternative cinema.]
El Gibali, A.
(1995). السينما البديلة والوعي السياسي: نماذج / Alternative Cinema and Political Consciousness: Examples. Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, 99–116.
Said, Edward, et al.
"السينما البديلة والوعي السياسي: نماذج / Alternative Cinema and Political Consciousness: Examples." Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, no. 15, 1995, pp. 99–116.