Thursday, October 25, 2007



THE KINGDOM



This is a worthy effort at trying to understand the internal dynamics of KSA. Everybody is seen to be at fault in some way and a real attempt is made to try and understand the Saudi mentality from its obsession with secrecy to its deeply held religiosity. All the main characters deliver reasonable performances and the story is hard edged and mostly realistic. Having said all this, the movie only works as a Western construction of the Saudi mind for other Westerners: the true Arab point of view lies somewhere "out there" in the interstices between myth and reality. Arabs watching this movie will learn nothing that they didn't know before about Westerners: they swear a lot, tell rude jokes and tend to be good in a firefight. Perhaps the sensitive portrayal of the central Saudi protagonist will create a new sympathy in the West for Muslims--but somehow I doubt it.

In the end this movie should be seen in the Saidian context of "Orientalism". It is a construct by the West that shows Arabs through the eyes of the unstoppable FBI: the dominated through the eyes of the dominators. Moreover, the FBI team has special knowledge that gives them power over the local Arab hierarchies completing the Foucauldian-Saidian discourse of "Knowledge as Power". Arabs are seen, even in their complexity, as people who make life difficult for Westerners: no attempt is made--or indeed ever could be made in what is essentially a Hollywood action movie--to allow Arabs to express their own points of view rather than the manipulated ones given to them by the script writers.

The Kingdom is a worthy movie. However, in its attempt to be impartial, it is blind to the fact that only one side of the equation is real: the other side is a construct which merely possesses the appearance of reality.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Fouad said...

A deep assessment.

2:13 PM  
Blogger pluto85 said...

Enjoyed this!

2:44 AM  

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