Organ of Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America)
                                Volume 1, Issue 5; June-July 2003 $1.00

A L L I A N C E ! ,A Revolutionary Communist Monthly

Divine Intervention, a film by Elia Suleman. A review by Hari Kumar

    This haunting film speaks to the desolation of what a fascist Israeli state has done to the Palestinian people’s gentleness. From this gentleness, has been created a searing, absolutely raging hatred. Every frame of the film talks to this situation. It is a very spare, or ‘minimalist’ film, with very little dialogue, although overheard snaps of conversation twist an ever growing alienation. Unlike many films in the bourgeois cinema, this film does not disguise its hatred in any usual “genteel” manner. Sometimes, the hatred is made palatable in an intense symbolism, one that however is rendered in a realistic manner.
    This needs explanation. For usually, in an artistic sense, “symbolism” is a cover for non-realism. However in this film that cannot be said. For example, the very first scene is of a bizarre chase, where four young Arabs chase a man dressed in a Santa Claus costume through a parched field, while he loses his presents. They corner him, but the denouement is not seen. In the context of the film, the chase seems a metaphor for the “false presents” of imperialism.
    Then the film cuts to its real opening shots, where for 10 minutes, an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem comes to life in the morning. The people make do with normal life, or what passes for it, while Israeli police casually arrest some neighbors. Arbitrary behaviors of the police and the Israeli army are a major centerpiece of the film, which only becomes apparent almost half way through the film. But desultory neighborhood scenes gradually carry more social freight as the movie progresses. So a man drives through the city, in a rage, muttering profane angry replies to waves of greeting, saying “collaborationist mother fucker!” for example, as he passes. The raging hatred begins to erupt even in a simple scene of driving through a neighborhood.
    Slowly the two main protagonists become clear. One of the neighbors has a son who lives on one side of an Israeli border post between Ramallah and Jerusalem. The first shot of this forbidding border post, shows a line of cars waiting to get through. As any informed person knows only too well by now, Arab livelihood often depends on getting through the border. Well, the Israeli guards shut down the border arbitrarily. As the cars hoot their horns in frustration, the guards start brandishing their guns and shooting to intimidate the drivers, who all rapidly turn their cars around and roar off. Except for one. A young lady walks out of her car, staring down the soldiers, lifts her shades as she dares them to shoot her, and she walks across the border. As she walks across, the border observation tower crumbles to the ground.  The resistance of one person is enough - is the message. It is this lady who is in love with the son of the raging driver in the neighborhood scene. She obviously lives on the other side of the border. They rendezvous by the side of the border post watching the vicious guards at their work-play.
    In one particularly brutal charade, the border guards snap the border shut on the eve of Ramadan. A guard walks up and down the cars humiliating the drivers, forcing them to walk out and dance with him as he shuts out the words of an Israeli insulting song. He then “shuffles” the drivers as he sees fit, into one another’s cars. The son watches all this as he awaits his rendezvous with his lover. The scenes with the lovers take place in a car, as they both drive to the border to tryst. The moral is clearly that the border and the guards pervert even an otherwise innocent human love. The relationship between the two lovers is shown as intimate, only by the intertwining of hands over the gear stick of the car, itself very sensuous – but limited by the environment.

    Slowly the anger grows and takes focus. The man driving along a street, is at a traffic light. A car driven by a cap-wearing Jew stops. He looks at him, and puts on a cassette and puts his windows down, while donning some shades. The tape sings “you belong to me“, while the Jew looks back to confront the blunt anger. The woman meanwhile, deliberately walks past a collaborator Arab who is having a tête-à-tête with the Israeli police – staring at them in a “I know who you are” manner.
    Unsurprisingly, this woman becomes a stark representation of the Intifada. In a scene that combines ancient mythic heroism, with the latest kung-fu surrealism, the woman is represented as a target for 5 trainee Israeli gunmen. They advance to the 5 life size targets showing an Arab woman in a Khafeih, and shoot them all down – bar one. As they rearm to shoot it down, a real woman steps form behind it – it is our heroine. As she throws somersaults and kills them, any impulse to laugh is chilled by the absolute seriousness of the hatred informed by the prior “small” pieces of a daily humiliation have been absorbed. As a helicopter gun-ship is called in, this woman defeats that. Again, a metaphor for resistance to the last against over-whelming odds is shown.
    The final scene is characteristic of the ‘domestic’ side of this film. The son who has just lost his father, and his mother, watch a pressure cooker on a stove from a sofa. It has reached its set pressure, and the woman says, “Surely it is time enough now”. No one moves, watching & hearing the pressure  in the cooker go up and up.
    This is a highly pressurized film, which should worry the Israeli fascists by its deep humanity. That will speak volumes to many filmgoers.