This is a film from Julian Schnabel based on the life of Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass). She rescued some fifty five orphaned Palestinian children in 1947. This was the ending of the British mandate and the birth of Israel; and as history has shown no nation is born without pain. The pain that this film wants to expose is that of the displaced Palestinians.
This handful of children soon becomes thousands and Hind opens a school for them, which is still educating such children today. The theme that runs through the film is that of education versus resistance, especially armed resistance. The paradox that is left unanswered is that the more education you have, the more aware you are of the alternatives and the increased sense of injustice has to, in certain cases, lead to armed revolt.
The film uses the lives of four women to tell the story of the history of Israel from birth to the present day and the internal turmoil's of those fighting for Palestinian autonomy, including the PLO. That said this is not a bloody war based film, it is the study of people who make sacrifices for the betterment and care of others. There is frequent use of actual footage and it tends to show Israeli aggression, but I did not feel this was an anti Israeli film moreover it seemed to be saying that a peaceful coexistence could still be a reality in lieu of the enactment of the 1993 Oslo Accord which guaranteed two separate states ' one Israel and one Palestine. This was a co production of France, Israel and Italy, but it is in English. With some Hebrew and some Arabic, it does tend to jump around a bit, and this may have been to attract a wider International audience, even Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave make short appearances.
There are good performances all round and it both looks and sounds brilliant, if there are any criticisms it is that it takes on too big a task in trying to cover over fifty years of history and despite much effort comes across as being biased, and often spelling things out for the characters that would have been common knowledge. Once again that could have been for those new to this subject, but it still felt a bit unnecessary. That said I really did enjoy this film, it is 108 minutes long but just flew by, and it crams so much in at the beginning, that you blink and you miss something, whilst it slowed down towards the end I found that it still did not take away from the overall cause of the film. For those interested in Israeli/Palestinian matters or World Cinema this is a must see.