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August 14 2022 3:45 PM ˚
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‘All this victory’ – a brilliant political metaphor

(Design: Jordan News/YouTube)
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The finest quality of the feature film “All This Victory”, screened during the Lebanese film days organized by the Royal film Commission, is that it tells us about an armed conflict from the perspective of civilians. اضافة اعلان

In the summer of 2006 a war broke out between Lebanese Hezbollah and the Israeli army. Worried, Marwan Hamdan travels to devastated southern Lebanon in the hope of finding his father Abu Nasser. He finds himself trapped in an isolated house whose upper floors are occupied by Israeli soldiers.

They did not want war. They undergo it. They hear it above their heads, cross it at the corner of the street, experience its bitterness through all their senses.

Marwan (Karam Ghossein) is a man in his thirties who rushes to a southern town that has become a heap of ruins in the hope of finding his father. There he meets two friends of the father who bring him home. Due to a short truce, all is calm. Then, without warning, the conflict resumes. Bullets are whistling everywhere. The three men, who will soon be joined by a couple, will spend the next three days confined to the first floor of the house.

These civilians are condemned not to make noise, because the danger is ready and lurking. There is nothing more to eat, soon nothing to drink. When a water pipe running alongside a wall bursts, they rush to lick the concrete.

(Photo: Youtube)

The great performance helps convey the feelings of terror experienced by Marwan and his companions. More than the words, it is the facial and bodily expressions, the immobility, which translate the protagonists’ dismay here.

The film also explores themes associated with each conflict and disaster: To leave or to stay? To look for relatives or hope for a future reunion? We see it here through the story of Marwan, but also of his wife Rana (Flavia Juska Bechara), who remained in Beirut. The two complementary stories would have benefited from being a little better linked.

While the protagonists, who ignore the presence of their “enemies” above, wonder what to do, the Israeli patrol moves upstairs; a clear metaphor of dominant and dominated, and of Israeli-Arab relations.

Begins a game of cats and mice under extreme tension. A closed session that takes place largely in silence since the villagers must avoid any noise that would denounce their presence.

(Photo: Youtube)

Failing to put flesh on his characters (only a few elements of their past resurface during brief whispered conversations), Ahmad Ghossein will rely on the language of cinema to translate their visceral terror: camera carried and close by alternates with well-composed long shots or simple tracking shots which can become extremely significant.

But more importantly, he relies on the fear of what is invisible to illustrate the anguish of the five heroes. The sounds of detonations and bursts of bullets are always out of focus, as are Israeli soldiers. We can hear them walking or talking, we can guess their silhouettes, nothing more

Eternal conflict

In his film, director Ahmad Ghossein offers a particularly ingenious staging, stuffed as it is with good flashes. Lingering on the retina, among other things, are the opening sequence, where a traveling magician makes a dove emerge from a crumpled Lebanese flag, or even the bullet hole on the ceiling, which becomes like a keyhole through which the captives observe the jailers who ignore their presence.

Ghossein never shows the Israeli soldiers, who can only be guessed by sounds and shadows. The filmmaker is also adept at forging an intimate atmosphere and one immediately feels part of Marwan’s quest and then of Marwan’s precarious situation.

(Photo: Youtube)

The performers are extremely credible; special mention goes to Boutros Rouhana and Adel Chahine, old friends who like to spend their time together. Elders of the gang, they allude to bombings in the 1980s and 1990s, a reminder of the perpetual nature of war.

Above all, the film offers a brilliant political metaphor by symbolically placing the Israeli army upstairs and the Lebanese downstairs, suggesting that the latter are not only forced to make themselves small if they hope to survive, but that in any possible confrontation they would be below par. Does this not apply to all major conflicts?

But more importantly, Ghossein relies on the fear of what is invisible to illustrate the anguish of the gang of five. The sounds of detonations and bursts of bullets are always out of focus, as are Israeli soldiers. We can hear them walking or talking, we can guess their silhouette, nothing more.

Inspired by true events, the film was crowned three awards in 2019 at the 34th International Critics’ Week in Venice, an independent section of the Venice Film Festival. It was also nominated for the Golden Pyramid Award for Best Film at Cairo International Film Festival.

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