Saturday, July 16, 2011


Miral is based upon the novel by Rula Jebreal, which is about four women and their lives during important moments of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The movie starts at Christmastime 1947 in Jerusalem with a woman named Hind Husseini. There appears to be at least relative peace between the Palestinians, Israelis and Americans living together and celebrating the holidays in Jerusalem in the wake of the devastation of World War II. However, in 1948 the U.N. decreed the formation of the nation of Israel, and Jews flood in from all parts of the world to settle in their homeland. Unfortunately, these Jewish settlements come at the cost of the displacement of thousands of Palestinians. One day, Hind is walking down the street and comes across a large group of children who were brought to Jerusalem following a massacre in their village Deir Yassin. She takes them all in and begins an orphanage, which eventually becomes a school for hundreds of Palestinian girls.

The second part of the movie deals with two women, Nadia and Fatima, who meet in prison in 1967, shortly after the "6 Day War" with Israel. Nadia was sexually abused by her step-father, and ran away from home. She became a belly dancer in order to support herself, and one day after work she is on a bus and is harassed by an Israeli woman who notices her husband staring at her. Nadia punches the Israeli woman and is sentenced to 6 months in prison. In prison, she shares a cell with Fatima. Fatima was a nurse during the "6 Day War" and was fired after she helped a young man escape back to Jordan. He had fought with the Palestinians against the Israelis, and all of these soldiers were considered prisoners of war by Israel. Fatima feels the need to fight back against Israel, and agrees to place a bomb in a movie theater. However, the bomb does not explode and someone in the theater was able to identify her and she was sentenced to two life sentences.

After Nadia is released from prison, she marries and has her daughter, Miral. However, she commits suicide when Miral is 7 and her father sends her to Hind's school, Dar Al-Tifel. When Miral (Freida Pinto) is 17, Hind sends all the girls to a Palestinian refugee camp to help teach the children. While at the refugee camp, Miral sees Israeli soldiers demolish a Palestinian home leaving the entire family homeless, and realizes the hardships the Palestinians have to face in the refugee camps. Later, during the Intifada in 1987, she goes to a protest with her friend from school, Hadil, and Hadil is shot and killed by Israeli soldiers. Miral then joins a group dedicated to fighting Israel, and falls for a young political activist, Hani. After she is arrested for her involvement in this group, Miral's father and Hind become concerned for her safety and future, and Miral has to choose between education as a path towards a better future, or continuing in an armed uprising that had been going on for 20 years with no resolution.

The movie ends with Hind's death in 1994, a few months after the Oslo peace accords were signed between Israel and Palestine. However, as the movie notes, these agreements have still not been honored almost 20 years later.

This movie provides a fascinating view into a conflict that we have heard about on the news for decades, but we are not often shown the Palestinian point of view. The movie uses real footage from these periods of history to truly illustrate the tragedies of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Although Freida Pinto is a wonderful actress, I couldn't help thinking of the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" and wished that they had cast a Palestinian in the role of Miral.

This movie is available OnDemand and on DVD.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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