The Laws of the Desert Are Unforgiving ...
Erika Borsos | Gulf Coast of FL, USA | 09/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is fascinating, startling, and haunting in its presentation of three different stories that all have a connection to a Bedouin tribe, although the stories themselves are not related. Each story presents a view of how traditional and modern cultures can clash or collide with unpredicatable results ... The music created by Yves Touati includes several oud, dumbka, and violins, as well as other traditional instruments of the Middle East, the unusual melody is appealing and mysterious, a perfect beginning for what the viewer is about to experience.
Each story is very different from the other, each begins with the Judean desert as a witness to events: the sand dunes, dry stones, and jagged, rugged peaks speak of eternity, a timelessness, a haunting beauty that contrasts with the stories which are in the here and now. The first story titled "Yellow Asphalt" could also be renamed "Accident" ... Two Israeli truck drivers are driving down a two lane highway which divides the desert, they accidentally hit a young Bedouin boy aged about 8 - 10 years old. The truck comes to a screeching halt after the body is tossed like a rag doll. Out of nowhere and everywhere, seven or eight Bedouin men walk toward the scene. A woman in a burka, drops in grief, as we hear her sobs. The Israeli men speakng to each other say, "They're going to kill us." One explains to the Bedoiuns, "It was an accident, 'Inshallah' [it is the will of Allah].". They offer up a huge truck tire which is accepted and rolled away, while one carries the lifeless body of the victim back to the village. The woman remains ... grieving quietly for her son.
In the second story, titled, "Black Spot" ... A Bedouin woman with unusual blue eyes, is covered in a burka from head to toes. She is pounding on a rod, building a fence to keep the sheep enclosed. Later she is summuned to a council of the elders, and questioned if she loves her husband. She replies, "I used to but I do not now." The husband is asked to divorce his wife, he refuses claiming she will take his children with her. The meeting is over. The husband, wife, and children go back to their home to sleep. Later, the wife awakens, gently nudges her children, packs some meager belongings and runs off with the children to escape. The husband searches the desert for his wife and children ... She makes it to the highway, catches a trucker, to whom she explains her predicament. He offers a ride, until the Bedouin husband arrives on the scene and orders his blonde-haired blue-eyed wife to cover up and demands she go home with him. She returns to their home but later makes a second desperate escape attempt. He tracks her in the hills among the caves. She has flashbacks when she was younger, a German tourist. She recalled how she met her husband - in the stark beauty of the desert. The viewer is not shown whether or not this unhappy wife ever succeeds leaving this loveless marriage ...
In the third story, "Red Roofs", the viewer learns about a Bedouin young man Abed, in his early twenties and a young woman Suhilla, aged late twenties, early thirties who both work for an Israeli man, Shmuel. His business is raising vegetables in hothouses in the desert ... Shmuel has had an ongoing affair with the Bedouin maid for two years. When they embrace, it is witnessed by Bedouin children, who throw rocks at them. Later, Suhilla is found murdered, shot. Although she had been missing for several days, her boss did not report this to the police. Abed is seriously questioned about her death by the elders of the tribe. He voluntarily undergoes a rigorous tribal procedure to prove his innocence. The film is worth viewing to determine the cause of Suhilla's death and whether the murderer is discovered and caught ...
This film portrays the realities of life in a very complex region of the world. There are no real winners in any of the stories. Things happen to people ... based on accident, based on naive choices or decisions, as in the case of the German female tourist who ends up marrying a Bedouin to her eternal regret. Or as in the last story, people fall into temptation, despite knowing there are severe consequences for succombing. The laws of the desert are ... unforgiving. Neither Israeli or Bedouin culture is deemed better or worse than the other. Reality is shown ... and in the last story ... the out come is not necessarily what you think. A most highly recommended film. Erika Borsos [pepper flower]"
Sharad Yadav | 09/14/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The movie is pretty grim. It is a disjointed collection of three short stories. The transition from one story to another is abrupt and confusing. This is more of a documentary feature than a feature film.
Some reviews talk about exotic locations and haunting cinematography. I think the movie scored poorly from an aesthetic perspective as well. A panoramic shot of the Judean desert doesn't exactly qualify as hypnotic. Another movie called "The Beast of war" was shot in the Judean desert and even though it was a raging war movie, the exquisite cinematography captured the viewer's attention.
The only redeeming factor about this movie is that it isn't biased. Everybody (the Bedouins and the more upscale urban Israelis) have been measured on an equal scale."