Paradise Now Discussion

Paradise now


Hany Abu-Assad had a difficult time making this movie.  The crew had to survive a missile attack on one occasion and a location scout was kidnapped.  The director said that in retrospect  he never would have made the film had he known the violence he would face.  Even more, it is difficult for a Western mind to comprehend the logic of a suicide bomber attack–why an individual’s beliefs would allow him to “self-destruct.’  Comment on how Paradise Now, by both character content and technical means, deconstructs or opens up the mind to help the viewer contemplate the “unthinkable’ decision to become a suicide bomber.

29 Responses to “Paradise Now Discussion”

  1. Jessica Warnement says:

    “A life without dignity is worthless. Especially when it reminds you day after day, of humiliation and weakness. And the world watches cowardly, indifferently. If you’re all alone, faced with this oppression… you have to find a way to stop the injustice. They must understand that if there’s no security for us there’ll be none for them either. It’s not about power. Their power doesn’t help them. I tried to deliver this message to them but I couldn’t find another way. Even worse, they’ve convinced the world and themselves that they are the victims. How can that be? How can the occupier be the victim? If they take on the role of oppressor and victim then I have no other choice but to also be a victim and a murderer as well. I don’t know how you’ll decide, but I will not return to the refugee camp.”

    In Paradise Now, we follow two childhood friends as they are recruited for a suicide-bombing mission. It was interesting to see the events leading up to the mission unfold. Everything was done matter-of-factly, emotionless (for the most part). There was no doubt prevalent in Khaled or Said’s mind that what they were doing had to be done. Until Said goes to Suha to deliver her car keys, and they get into a heated discussion about martyrs and collaborators. Later, when waiting to cross the border, Said asks Khaled (who’s portrayed unwavering dedication to the cause) if they’re doing the right thing, and of course receives a confident response from his dear friend Khaled.

    After their attempt to cross the border falls through, and Said and Khaled are separated, we watch them go through the journey of finding each other, and finding their true selves. In an unexpected turn of events, we see Khaled gain his suspicions about the mission they are set on (thanks to Suha), while Said seems to grasp the necessity of the mission. While I myself personally cannot fully comprehend the mind of a suicide-bomber, I feel that Paradise Now provided a successful portrayal of the mental process in which one goes through when assigned such a mission. More importantly, suicide-bombing aside, it is when we hear Said’s understanding and explanation of their mission, and the overall war with Israel, that we truly understand.

    I found myself contemplating the actors’ portrayal of their characters at the film’s end. We watched as Khaled, with the utmost commitment to the cause, almost excited about being chosen for the mission, often smiling. It was clear that in his mind, there was no greater honor than what he was about to do for his country. Said, on the other hand, displayed a myriad of emotions throughout the film, leaving the viewer uncertain of his thoughts on his assigned mission. I was convinced that if one of the two were to decide against following through on the mission, it was surely going to be Said. But it was his speech in the end that really explained the emotional roller coaster we endured with his character. And while it was this speech that I say made me fully understand how an individual’s beliefs would allow him/her to “self-destruct”, I say this of course knowing that I myself have never been placed in such a position, and honestly couldn’t even begin to imagine what one must believe whole-heartedly to decide a suicide mission is the answer.

  2. Erik Rickards says:

    What struck me as the most interesting thing about Hany Abu-Assad’s deconstruction of the “martyr” psyche in “Paradise Now” was the variety of driving factors in what pushed Said and Khaled to become suicide bombers. I feel like all too often we paint these people with broad strokes as “religious fanatics”, who give their lives for nothing more than the satiation of an overzealous desire for conflict– and while religion may be a factor, Abu-Assad reminds us that these characters are much more human than we might want to believe.

    The cultural drives in each character are a very strong tool for this, particularly in the effect that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict had on Said– He views the Israelis as the enemies and holds them responsible for his father’s death, and the conflict that he has spent his whole life caught up in undoubtedly has opened his mind to radical forms of violence. The fact that Said planned to disobey orders and detonate his belt on his father’s grave rather than the checkpoint really highlights the effects the conflict has had on him in my mind. Where outsiders might see only simple hatred for one another, Said shows us that there can be so much more to what drives suicide. The grief that he must have felt his whole life over his father’s death was clearly what he really lamented, and he approached the original plan of attack to gain some form of catharsis over his father’s death, rather than the war. In this way, I don’t think either of the characters agreed to the original plan for anything close to what we as outsiders would expect, and the perspective that this film has granted us all is very valuable in this regard.

    I think that this is why Abu-Assad pushed through the violence that his crew endured during the production (even though he says he wouldn’t have done it had he known what would happen)– he had a message to get out concerning the nature of the conflict (or the individuals making up the conflict) and he would not let the violence itself stop him.

    • Jessica Warnement says:

      Hi Erik,

      I think you make a good point, that while Abu-Assad did in fact state that had he known of the violence he and his crew were to endure during filming, he wouldn’t have made the film, but it was his message that he needed to get out that made this film necessary.

      And I agree, I feel that the message was well received. Driving home the understanding that they too are people, facing a choice in life. I know many people who do in life as they believe they are meant to do.

  3. Shelina Turner says:

    Revealing this inside look at the thought process behind someone that could not only take their own life but the lives of others themselves is very interesting. I found myself sympathetic and understanding of the frustration of the oppression being felt. I found the mindset similar to that of the children that are bullied in school and decide to take guns to school. Suicide bombings are generally oppression from the government so a much larger scale than the school child. I found it very interesting that a movie that is showing an inside look at the rational behind suicide bombings was so hated. I find myself wondering if more physiologists were readily available if that would help? Or if there was less oppression from the government if those statistics would go from suicide bombings to just suicides or if they wouldn’t even have the issues.

  4. Courtney Thompson says:

    Paradise Now is a film directed by Hany Abu-Assad about the “unthinkable” decision of being a suicide bomber. The film follows two Palestinian friends, Said and Khaled, who are recruited by a terrorist organization to become suicide bombers. When Said finally gets the message that “it is time,” he and Khaled get things in order to venture across the border into Israel to complete their task that was given to them by God. The decision for them to become a suicide bomber seemed simple and well thought as they believed that it was God’s will and honestly the right thing to do. When the audience gets a glimpse though into their lives and what they had with their families you couldn’t help but to think why would you be so willing to give all of this up just to try to prove a point. To them though they did not see all of the good but instead just the immense constant bad. They were poor and felt constantly bullied by Israeli people. The film does what I would assume many directors are afraid to do and that is humanize these men that make the “unthinkable” decision to become a suicide bomber.

    “If we can’t live as equals at least we can die as equals” this is what Khaled tells Suha. Khaled is motivated to be a suicide bomber as he feels as though this could help to liberate Palestinians that are like him, oppressed. He believes that this is the necessary step in the right direction. Said on the other hand has more personal motivations as his father was killed for thought of being an Israeli collaborator. Both also state through out the beginning of the film that this is God’s will. Abu-Assad wanted to show the audience that there is no one sole reason as to why someone chooses to become a bomber. Most believe that it is purely religious factors, but Abu-Assad, through the aid of these two characters, is able to show that there are a range of motivations to being a suicide bomber.

    Abu-Assad shows beautifully how targeting other poor people will not “stick it” to the government as Said and Khaled want to do. He shows this by filming Said wanting to blow up a bus but deciding not to when he sees a little Israeli girl. It is not her fault that his father has died in fact she is probably still unaware of the harsh realities of this world. How human that little girl was is what made him rethink being a suicide bomber. Abu-Assad wanted to retell a story not one based off of religion but a new point of view, one that has meaning and a purpose. He was able to do something that no one else has, viewing these “terrorists” as humans.

    I found it very interesting as well the lengths that the director was willing to go to create this film. One crew member was kidnapped by a Palestinian, other crew members quit in fear of death and kidnappings, missile attacks and many more events. Abu-Assad continued though as he felt that this story was that important. He needed the world to know a different side to a once believed religious action. Abu-Assad actually recreates DaVinci’s Last Supper painting by having our two main characters (the bombers) and 11 others gathered around a long table. This was his way of reconnecting the suicide action to its religious roots. “I am retelling the story, but not anymore from the God point of view,” he said. “I am repainting the painting, but from the now point of view” (“The Psyche of Suicide Bombers”). The audience starts to feel for these characters and hope that they both choose another path besides death but unfortunately still one character believes that this is the right thing to do and will bring peace to him, his people, and his family. We did not see a terrorist by the end of this film or a crazy suicide bomber but we saw a human, a tragedy.

    “The Psyche of Suicide Bombers.” Beliefnet. Beliefnet Inc, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

    • Jessica Warnement says:

      Hi Courtney,

      When considering my thoughts and emotional response to the film, I honestly had forgotten of the scene in which Said chooses not to blow up the bus that had the little girl on it. In fact showing that there is more human qualities to them than we want to believe.

      And while I still see their beliefs, both in this film and with every suicide-bomber, as a driving force, Abu-Assad did provide an effective portrayal of the other side, the side we do not see, of the emotional obstacles one faces when choosing to become a suicide-bomber.

  5. Haley Nelson says:

    “Paradise Now,” a film by director Hany Abu-Assad, has accepted understandable scrutiny in its exploration of suicide bombings throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For many viewers, the issue it addresses is simply black and white: Suicide bombers are manifestations of pure evil, and operate outside of moral, human structure. Abu-Assad’s portrayal, however, is anything but. Through the use of direct dialogue, Abu-Assad deftly dredges up the humanistic elements that underscore a suicide bomber’s intent to take drastic action, and shed light on the conditions that lead them to such dire straits.

    The film introduces the concept of a suicide attack innocuously enough, which was likely an intentional choice. We are first presented with a series of familiar situations (likely for the sake of the Western audience): squabbles with auto mechanics, a budding romance, family dinners, a mother’s love. Suicide was integrated amidst the familiarity rather seamlessly. It begins subtly: An alert that they had been chosen, and had one last night with their family, delivered solemnly, yet warmly by a friendly associate. The morality of retributive violence is casually discussed between Said and Suha (and later between Suha and Khaled), each championing an opposing side. Said and Khaled elaborate on camera their reasons for pursuing a suicide attack; a scene that is fraught with imperfection and restarts. Through these moments, it as almost as if the audience is being primed to identify with the characters, and to eventually identify with their logic for undertaking a suicide bombing.

    Especially for Western audiences, information that is disseminated about suicide-bombers is limited to the political aftermath, as viewed by third-party news sources, and the “farewell speeches” recorded and released by the suicide-bombers. Extracting logical intention and humanity out of these discrete elements has tended to be a difficult task for the international audience; leading to dark illustrations of suicide-bombers as robotic, brain-washed entities that are programmed for murder.

    Where the film succeeds in humanizing suicide bombers is in its presentation of the moments between the more classic, extreme actions. Between the farewell speech and the crossing the Israeli border, we become privy to many grounded and human moments. There are moments of intense conviction, where their logic is lain out clearly, concisely, and with sound reason, given their circumstances. There are moments of doubt, wherein Said and Khaled must give each other pep talks, and pray independently for further conviction. There are moments of fear. There are moments of humor. Moments of great sadness. In fact, the gambit of the human condition is run almost in its entirety over the span of the film. In doing so, the audience is given countless moments with which to connect to the characters’ rationale, their desperation, or at least their moments of weakness.

    Dialogue is the main vehicle of relating these sentiments and reasonings to the audience. Little of Said or Khaled’s thought processes as they come nearer to the event are left unsaid, which enormously assists the audience in developing sympathies. Some notable phrases:

    “If we can’t live as equals, at least we’ll die as equals.” Khaled

    “Whoever fights for freedom can also die from it.” Jamal

    “If you’re not afraid of death, you’re in control of life.” Jamal

    “We have no other way to fight… We’ve tried with all possible means to end the occupation with political and peaceful means…” Khaled

    “Our bodies are all we have left to fight with against the never-ending occupation.” Said

    Presenting a voice of opposition to suicide bombings, via the female lead, Suha, was also a successful element in reframing the issue of suicide attacks. Having an equally-credible character on the Palestinian side of the conflict, championing the rejection of suicide bombing as a resistance technique, allows the audience to at least consider the arguments which Said and Khaled use to refute her claims. Such scenes read as an equal discussion between peers, and less of a radicalized, population-brain-washed mantra. From Suha:

    “Resistance can take many forms.” Suha

    “If you can kill and die for equality you should be able to find a way to be equal in life.” Suha

    “And what about us? The ones who remain? Will we win that way? Don’t you see that what you’re doing is destroying us? And that you give Israel and excuse to carry on?” Suha

    The desperation felt by these Palestinians is made to be tangible. It has affected the characters deeply, as we come to know throughout the film, and dramatically colors their perception of daily life, however normal their lives may seem to the viewer at the beginning. The loss of friends and family is a constant reminder of their occupation, and the helplessness they have been placed into. Through the film’s careful dialogue, we come to know this desperation intimately, and are able to sympathize — at the very least with the hopelessness felt by an oppressed population, their desire to regain long-lost control over their own lives, and the dramatic endings they feel they have been driven to — if not empathize with their position completely.

    • Shelina Turner says:

      Wonderful quotes from the dialog. “If you’re not afraid of death you’re in charge of life” very powerful statement. Once you have made the decision that you are okay with death you are not afraid of anything anymore.

  6. Heather says:

    I think most people see suicide bombing as an unthinkable act because they only see the devastation it causes and they don’t think about the reasons that would lead someone to actually carry something of that magnitude out. However, I also think that if you asked most people if they were willing to die for their family or country, or if they would sacrifice themselves so that many more could live, they would say yes. In “Paradise Now” I think Hany Abu-Assad did a great job at portraying two characters that many people could identify with. We saw into their homes and we saw how they were capable of caring for others and that others cared for them as well. We don’t like to think of people who do “evil” things as having good character and if they are loved by people we see as kind and also of good character we think they must do good things. However, this good behavior is a cultural construct and while most in the west see suicide bombing as negative there are obviously a lot of people who feel it is the only and best option to aid in their cause.
    I also thought it was interesting to see atmospherically the difference between the West Bank and Tel Aviv. Although I don’t really recall either character mentioning anything specifically negative about the West Bank or Positive about Tel Aviv, I feel like there was a conscious effort to impart those feelings on the viewer. There were times when either Said or Khaled would mention disliking their living conditions and as the camera explored the landscape it felt like a third world country; even the cabby mentioned the unsanitary water. The image of the West Bank is contrasted against the lively beach front and city scape presented to us as Said and Khaled are riding to their designated drop point. In the end Khaled wanted to return home without accomplishing the mission while Said went on to fulfill his destiny. I can’t help wonder what will become of Khaled when he returns home, will he be ashamed and seen as cowardly, will he be given a second opportunity and follow through, or will he fight with Suha non-violently?

    • Haley Nelson says:

      You have encapsulated what I think the film was attempting to do perfectly. We are made to see ourselves in the film, should we find ourselves in similar circumstances. When a person is oppressed, when their family is in danger, when their liberties and rights of life are stripped, how far are they willing to go, especially if they feel they have nothing to lose or have no other options?

      You bring up an interesting follow-up question about Khaled; one that I hadn’t thought of, and one that would probably make the director proud that you have thought to ask. The fact that Khaled’s next move isn’t exactly obvious further underscores the complex psychology involved in making such a dire decision. It’s definitely not black or white, as the film suggests.

    • Courtney Thompson says:

      When someone is pushed so far to a limit where they feel death is the only option to make their point is astounding. When I would hear about suicide bombers in the news I would instantly hate them. Thinking what awful human beings just willingly decide that more people need to die. I never once thought about what those people have been through, whether they were forced, felt as though they had no other option, if it was retaliation, a sign of freedom, a sign that they still control their own lives. I think the biggest reason to be a suicide bomber that really made me feel for them was the idea that they decided to do this because they can finally control something in their own life as well as death is the one thing we all have in common whether we are rich or poor.

    • Jessica Warnement says:

      “there are obviously a lot of people who feel it is the only and best option to aid in their cause.”

      Notions of revenge and retaliation aside, what a tragedy it is when someone believes the best solution is a suicide mission.

  7. Aaron Walling says:

    There is something that not many people would accept that revenge is a motivation to suicide bombings. Now I live in the decadent of that suicide is not the answer, but the point is made by Said in a very powerful scene. The scene in question is the one where Said and his friend are sitting there in a room and Said explains his reasoning to why he became a suicide bomber. The character content of Said is very interesting on how he is very unsure to become a suicide bomber. However, when he talks about his father, his motivation, shows the transformation of himself from questioning of what is happening ,to being broken down, to him following through his plan from his God. Some of the best camera work and lighting work comes from the scene of his motivation. Said sits on the bed and he tells the tale of how his father was killed for working with the Israelis as a collaborator. While Said talks, you see the light behind illuminating the background. This gives off the impression that what he talks about is looked upon as a good thing, that revenge is needed for him to avenge his father. However, the movie depicts Said with a black jacket, the color black is universally known as the color of death. Death is the ending for a suicide bomber, and yet the light shines over the upcoming death to a main character in this movie. This opens the audience’s mind to why he is a suicide bomber. There are certain characters in movies that go on suicide missions, but never die. The Punisher in the movies wears black and is close to death all the time for revenge. The Expendables, the characters in that wear black and they search for revenge. Said is no different in them, the only thing is that is after his mission is successful he is done for, dead. The audience’s mind is open to it a little bit more under the pretense that he does this for revenge. He wants to avenge his father, and the way the director portrays him, and how the lighting gives his character the mood for his motivation and psyche for what is going to happen to him.
    All in all this movie definitely opened my mind on why Said wants to follow through on his plan for “revenge”, even though his death is coming up in the movie Said connects to people through the revenge, the guilt, and the uncertainty of life.

    • Heather says:

      I wish this film was still available for me to watch without renting, I would love to re examine this scene. I always find it interesting, the moments that stand out to others but pass by me so quickly. I can see the imagery you explain having a psychological effect on me without realizing it.

    • Jessica Warnement says:

      Hi Aaron,

      While I have to admit that I did not notice the intricacies of that scene as well as you did, I did find that scene to be the most powerful of the entire film. Said’s delivery of his understanding of the situation in its entirety was a very emotional scene as the viewer.

  8. Mikayla Hamlin says:

    I like how you addressed what you were thinking about the suicide bomber before watching the film. I also was thinking the same thing, that these people were probably crazy and the true “bad guys”. But after watching the film, it is quite apparent that these people are lost and desperate to seek a change in their lives. I couldn’t even begin to know what they could do to make this change happen, but like I said above I still don’t agree with their decision to become suicide bombers. Clearly, these people see absolutely no hope for their futures. It is quite sad.

  9. brittanyhoch says:

    Until watching this movie I did find the idea of being a suicide bomber unthinkable. What could possibly make someone do that? Paradise Now gives you a look into the lives of people who choose to do this and it was not what I expected. Said and Khaled seem to be normal people, not crazy as I would have anticipated, but lost, trying to find an answer to the situation they are in. They are poor, oppressed and terrorized with no means to fight the oppression they feel. The answer that seems most affective is to make sure the oppressor understands, “that if there’s no security for us there’ll be none for them either,” and that means using the only thing they have left as weapons, themselves.
    “Life here is like life imprisonment. The crimes of the occupation are countless. The worst crime of all is to exploit the people’s weaknesses and turn them into collaborators. By doing that, they not only kill the resistance they also ruin families ruin their dignity, and ruin an entire people. When my father was executed, I was ten years old. He was a good person. But he grew weak. For that, I hold the occupation responsible. They must understand that if they recruit collaborators they must pay the price for it. A life without dignity is worthless. Especially when it reminds you day after day, of humiliation and weakness. And the world watches, cowardly, indifferently. If you’re all alone, faced with this oppression you have to find a way to stop the injustice. They must understand that if there’s no security for us there’ll be none for them either.”
    -Said, Paradise Now
    The quote above really helps you get inside Said’s head to see what drives him to his decision. He is weighed down by the guilt of his father’s collaboration but puts the blame on the Israelis, because if they hadn’t been there oppressing them his father would have never been forced into that position. So now not only is he living in oppression and poverty but living with a great burden of guilt and without dignity as he sees it.
    The line, “If you’re all alone, faced with this oppression you have to find a way to stop the injustice,” is really the most important. Suha tries to convince both Said and Khaled that there is a better way to fight the injustice, but being so bogged down by guilt and hate Said is unable to see it. He believes becoming a suicide bomber is the only way to get justice for his father, his people and himself.
    I think, after watching Paradise Now, I have a better understanding of why someone might choose to be a suicide bomber. If you are so oppressed by another force that you feel helpless and humiliated all the time with no other means to affect justice, would it be better to fight back with any means possible even if that meant taking your own life? I don’t know, I have never experienced that situation, but I can see now how it happens. I hope there would be a better way, but as Hany Abu-Assad said in his interview, “To live as a Palestinian is to live in constant humiliation. You swim in your own self-pity. You are bathing in it. People in such circumstances find it difficult to think differently. They cannot.” I also see how that is possible when you see no hope because you have never been able to leave the bad situation you are in, other possibilities may not seem as appropriate as what you know.

    • Shelly DeWilde says:

      The moment in the film when Said escaped the patrol car into Israel and he is standing at the bus stop deciding whether or not to get on though clearly the plan had been ruined was the moment I realized that Said is not so much religious or political but rather suicidal in a spiritual and psychological sense. The whole film was a sort of introduction into Said’s and Khaled’s reasoning for why they are wanting to be suicide bombers, both vastly different, and a study of their harsh and oppressive environments and until the moment when Said is explaining his reasons why he feels he has no other option other than to be a bomber leads to the conclusion of this impressive and wholly tragic scene where he becomes a murderer.

    • Aaron Walling says:

      I agree with your point about Said’s motivation, and you see the character change throughout the speech he gives about his father. He changes his demeanor to follow through with his plan to bomb the Israelis.

    • Shelina Turner says:

      I absolutely love the quote you decided on. Pretty much summed up the movie in one quote. Life there was difficult and the government suppressing them. Some people choose the easy way out and ended up hurting the cause they were so determined to help.

  10. Shelly DeWilde says:

    First scene in the film was indicative of deconstruction for the western viewers disbelief in the act of suicide attacks when the customer tells Said, the mechanic, “it’s crooked! Just like your father!” Said responds with nothing, he didn’t defend himself, didn’t question him and he tried to stop Khaled from breaking the customer’s bumper. He accepted the man’s declaration without a fight, even when the very ground he was standing on was crooked. When Suha, the educated and polished Palestinian who grew up away from Nablus, wanted to drive she learns that the roads are blocked and there are bombs in the background, which we later learn is a common occurrence and helps us realize that even the community itself is confined, oppressed and controlled by outside forces. When Suha and Said are later talking at her home fighting about the futility of Palestinian’s military power against Israel’s Suha realized that even arguing about it is pointless and ends in a stalemate.
    When Said was dressing himself as a ‘settler’ he says a very poignant statement that “our bodies are all we have left.” The Western viewer understands that without much proof, due to Palestinian poverty and from that statement it introduces us to delve further into the psyche of a suicide bomber. When Said came back from the border and is driving the taxi around, the taxi driver comments about the literal pollution, from the settlers, into their water system, which somehow was found to diminish the quality of sperm, we understand that this isn’t just oppression it is also effecting their general health. This turns us to the immediacy of their plight that something has to be done. We also understand that when Said says it is “God’s will” to bomb Tel-Aviv it becomes even more evident as to why he think that when Abu Karem interrogates him and we learn of Said’s history. It helps me see why he would think that, because we see the imprisonment of his life through his history and the settler’s manipulations. I see his reasoning in his claim “if they take on the role of oppressor and victim…then I have no other choice but to also be a victim…and a murder as well..” When Said lies on his father’s grave we forget the religious and political connotations of his suicide and realize that he is irrevocably tied to this fate from his own psychology and family legacy.

    • Mikayla Hamlin says:

      These are all great points that were made by the film to help us see the viewpoint of the suicide bomber and the oppression of the Palestinians. Especially good point about the water being contaminated and affecting their health, their bodies are literally all they have left, and even the health of their bodies is being suppressed.
      I completely agree that the oppression of these people is wrong and something should be done about it, but I am still not convinced that this is the best way. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anything if they keep on killing themselves to bomb Israel.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree with that statement, suicide and becoming a murderer should never be an option. I state that Said due to his legacy and internal psychology have led him down the path to believing that he has no other option but to be a suicide bomber even with the counter arguments of his best friend or lost romantic interest however his depression is so deep and as seen appearing increasingly futile to successfully come out of as the film leads to it’s tragic and horrific conclusion.

    • brittanyhoch says:

      I agree with your ending statement, I know at the beginning he sort of doubted his mission but by the end of the movie while your hoping that they will find another way you realize the pain and humilation that Said is living with won’t let him consider other options. I think thats a good point. It wasn’t completely political or religious, but rather a psychological issue Said could not find another way to beat.

    • Heather says:

      I really enjoyed reading your statement on the film. You brought up a lot of dialogue and imagery that I didn’t place right away. For example, I didn’t think at all about the client at the car dealership commenting on the crookedness of Saids father after it happened. Now it adds another layer for me to consider, the idea that he has to live with people on a regular basis throwing in his face the shame of his father. It was interesting that he didn’t ever seem angry with the acts of his father, that his actions only brought him closer to his final decision.

  11. Mikayla Hamlin says:

    Paradise Now, directed by Hany Abu-Assad gives us a look into the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. Said and Khaled are two Palestinian suicide bombers that are recruited to cross the border into Tel Aviv to bomb a large group of Israeli soldiers. Their decision to become suicide bombers seemed simple at first; they just knew they had to because that was God’s will for them. In the beginning of the film they focus a lot on each of their families the night before their mission.

    Khaled was very excited and happy about the operation going into it, but Said was more unsure. Right before they attempt to cross the border, he questioned if they were doing the right thing. Once Said gets separated from Khaled, and the whole mission seems to be a bust, Said changes his demeanor and looking into the mirror he tells himself, “You cannot alter your fate. There is no other way. It’s God’s will.” He seems more convinced at this point.

    There is a lot of direct dialogue in this film that the characters use to express their opinion on why they should be suicide bombers for the “cause”. To them, it is all they can do to stand up for themselves after years of oppression. They speak of what an honor it is, God willing, they should die this way because they believe they will just go to heaven right away to be with him. Said’s reasoning towards the end, as he is being questioned by Azzam,
    “A life without dignity is worthless, especially when it reminds you day after day, of humiliation and weakness. And the world watches, cowardly, indifferently. If you’re all alone, faced with this oppression, you have to find a way to stop the injustice.”
    Jamal, the man who originally recruited Said and Khaled, is very convincing in his reasoning as well,
    “What can you do when there is no justice or freedom? The individual has to fight for it. If we give in to the law, then the strong devours the weak, then we reduce ourselves to the level of animals. That’s intolerable. Death is better than inferiority. Whoever fights for freedom can also die for it.”

    Once they finally cross over into Israel, there is a very stark difference between the luxury of Tel Aviv, and where Said and Khaled have lived in Palestine. The director is making it blatantly clear, how unfair their oppression truly has been.

    One of the final scenes is when Said locks Khaled in the car and makes the driver take him back, so he can attempt the suicide bombing alone. The devastation on Khaled’s face is heartbreaking. In the end, he had ultimately changed his mind, and no longer wanted them to go through with it, and Said was actually convinced of what he needed to do.

    • Shelly DeWilde says:

      I really liked how you noted the transformation in the film from Said being unsure of this mission to know being convinced that it is God’s will. I also like how you mentioned this character development. I noted that Khaled also seemed more sure of the mission in the beginning then later changes his mind, which was the opposite of Said. We later learn that Said’s destiny, mostly to himself, points to this mission while we see Khaled throughout the film has joy and some fulfillment with his family and life and Said does not.
      I liked how you pointed out the stark difference between Israel and the Palestinian territories, this was a great maneuver by the director.

    • brittanyhoch says:

      I think the ending of the movie was interesting, Suha had talked to both of them and ended up convincing Khaled, who was so sure of the mission in the beginning but not Said, who seemed to question it. I’m not sure completely what mad him decide it was the right thing to do, but the explanation of why he wants to do this really gives the viewer a look into Said’s mind, but those thoughts had to have been there when he was doubting the plan as well. I thought the movie did a good job at giving insight into what make someone capable of becoming a suicide bomber, but like Khaled I would hope there was another way.

    • Aaron Walling says:

      I love the point you made of how both Said and Khaled switch roles in the movie, and nice use of quotes from the movie. Nice point about oppression.

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