I knew Miral wasn’t the typical Hollywood movie. And I knew that even if Miral wouldn’t be seen by the majority, it would stir up some groups.
Directed by New York Jew Director Julian Schnabel has angered Israeli groups that are protesting that the movie, is pro-Palestine. Sure the choice of Schnabel to adapt the autobiographical novel of Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian journalist, is an odd choice.
But it seems that Schnabel was struck by the similarities of character between his mother ( a refugees from concentration camps) and Hind Husseini, the woman who finds dozens of orphans in the street (in the wake of a bombing) and, without flinching, takes them all home with her, opening the orphanage where the eponymous heroine would be raised.
The movie follows the story of Miral who at the age of 7 after her mother’s death, was sent to the Dar Al-Tifel Institute, established by Hind Husseini. Growing up in the institute walls, Miral is naive about what happens around her. At the age she is assigned to teach at a refugee camp where she is awakened to the reality of the Palestinian refugees. There she meets Hani and falls for him. Miral finds herself torn between the First Intifada of her people and Hind’s belief that education is the road to peace.
The movie witnesses a lot of suffering one in particular is Miral violent interrogation later in the movie. As the movie goes on, we realize Miral stands between two distant groups; those who encourage her to stay out of politics, and other forces who show that it’s not really possible.
The most political and reasonable character in the movie is Miral’s boyfriend Hani Omar Metwally). He is on the Palestinian side but advocates a policy that includes everyone in the region, because it’s not us or them and doesn’t demand others to get out. Later in the film, he’s willing to accept only 22% of the land under the Oslo Agreement, because he sees the only way to make progress is to start small.
Now the tagline “Is this the face of a terrorist?” is provocative. And despite Schnabel is trying to reflect his belief that “there is no good violence,” there is another important point that makes a movie good or not, regardless if it reflects the director’s belief: Is it successful at making you care about the girl first as a human being, regardless or her nationality?
It is obvious that the movie is on Miral side. Miral sometimes blend in her surrounding making it difficult to understand whether we feel sympathy for the character or for the surrounding I believe this is not the story of Miral but the story of Palestine between 1948 and 1988 told through the life of Miral. It is a politically movie that sometimes show the human side of the story. Two scene linger in my mind: when Hani eventually says to Miral: “Two states, one state, I don’t care. I want to live my life. I want a future for our children,” making us wonder whether this is resignation or hope. And the brief scene where Hind is confronted with the orphans in the street.
The movie should be watched knowing that it doesn’t only tell the story of Miral but also of Palestine. It might as well tell a point of view you didn’t consider.