A break from real bad Arabs
The Bush administrations foreign policies has led to a few critical films about the countries involvement in the Middle East. Syriana, Rendition, Lions for Lambs, Valley of Elahj, Redact to name a few which have tried to put the Middle East conflicts into some perspective so as to reveal the games which are being played in the name of democracy and freedom.Where once the brave Americans save the day by shooting crazed “towel heads” and Reds to save the world we now seeing a tripple of films which are more nuanced. Even in X-Files the Movie there was a humorous scene of Mulder and Scully rolling their eyes at a photo of Bush, while the theme tune played in the background.
Ridley Scotts’ new movie Body of Lies, which takes up US espionage in the Middle East as its subject is thought-provoking and powerfu. The film stars Leonardo di Caprio as Roger Ferris, a CIA agent who speaks fluent Arabic, understands and respects local customs and is on the search for terrorist groups in Iraq and Jordan.
Ferris reports to Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), a senior CIA official who co-ordinates Ferris’ activity in the Middle East from Washington DC. In contrast to Ferris, Hoffman has only one aim in mind and that is to acquire information which serves USAs interests. For Hoffman anyone is dispensable including Ferris as long as he is in the wings of the CIA.
Hani Pasha (Mark Strong), Jordan’s chief of security and Ferris create a trusting working relationship which Hoffman repeatedly attempts to destroy by using information Ferris gives him. Hoffman neither understands the culture or has respect for the traditions and customs in the Arab world, he reflects the American establishment and it is shown clearly in his attitude towards Hani.
The film had some powerful scenes and good action, but I guess it is the underlying message which interestes me. The way the movie showed the devils on both sides of the world. The use and abuse of power by the USA to fabricate evidence, bombings and use bodies which have been in storage to create a lie for the mainstream media to lap up. Something else to note is the humanising of Arabs world and also a clip from the refugee camps in Lebanon, which resemble shanty towns. Most interesting is Ferris’ reflections over what he has become and how the “enemy” makes him realise that what he has been serving is not as humane and just as he believed.
Good movie worth watching and a wonderful break from Bad Arabs.
Reel bad Arabs http://www.reelbadarabs.com/