Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Band's Visit- Bikur Ha-Tizmoret (2007)

We watch movies to learn a new story. I love movies with strong story line. The Band's visit scraps this thing right from the first scene. It is about a story that can be told in 2 lines. So its not about the story.

Let me summarize the story here "A Police band from Egypt who is visiting Israel for a performance in the culture center, loses its way to end up in an unknown town with few of the local characters. Next day they take the bus to their culture center."

It is a story about common people and these common people share the same problems whether it be Egypt or Israel. Arabs and Israelis - However different with their animosities on the world political stage has a common thread of humanism in between them. A story about Arabs and Jews hence has a context and that context is something that the movie tries to negate.

The narrative of this movie and the visual style of presentation is quite unlike other things that I have scene. The pictures don't give you the characters and emotions first, it just gives you an empty frame, with the background that would be for the next scene. It stays on those houses or desert or buildings for a moment longer than what you expect. It gives a very different feel to the movie. It makes you belong to the places it sees. For example, you see this huge house, and the trees around - still silent. You wait someone would come out of it. A moment passes, you suddenly start enjoying looking at the house, a man walks in front of the house slowly, its that man you follow in the next scene. The whole idea was to show a set of people lost in a Foreign land in between foreign people and this simple techinique goes a long way to give you that feel. Consider this, the first scene of the movie too, there is this car that stands at the airport. A man comes out puts something in the back of the van, comes ahead, it takes a second longer than you expect, and then the car moves, as you expect to follow that van, but what you see is, on the other side of the van stands 8 men dressed in bright bluish uniform, standing in an impeccable queue, lead by a general.

Simple things like accent, dressing that makes human different are beautifully portrayed, and more beautifully portrayed are those human emotions that make people across the world similar. It shows the feeling of loneliness that binds Tawfeeq Zackaria (The General) and Dina (The rude restauant owner). It shows the emotion of love for children and usual fights with wife, that binds the other 2 characters. It shows how a casanova-ish Arab teaches a clue less Israeli how to get the girl. 3 of the band memebers living with a family, binds over a song on the dinner table. Simple things yet impactful. Music too weaves the movie beautifully. Especially the scene where the second in command talks about his composition and the practice that the 3 of the band memebers do in the silence of the night and the last performance. Interesting perspectives make this movie special.

There are a few really good scenes that lingers on your mind after the movie. One that I remember right away is when one of the band memeber is waiting for Egyptian Embassy's call at a phone booth, and on the same phone another Israeli is waiting for a call from his girlfriend and the phone rings, both wants to pick up but the courtsey in them wantst the other to pick the phone first. The ring goes on, you expect something dramatic like the phone ring gets over, but just at the last moment the one who is lost and waiting for his embassy's call picks it up. Simple scene but beautiful. Another one is when Tawfeeq tells Dina how "Music is not important" these days and also on a bench when he tells her about "Fishing" being the best thing to do in life. You sit, you listen to the waters and the bird chirp in Symphony. He says he likes fishing but never gets fishes and if he gets he lets them go back in water. The whole point of enjoying the act more than the result, makes life interesting. Dina, a rash woman with a messed up life, appreciates that. She always felt liek a loser, and a small nod from a dignified Tawfeeq, who tells her that "you are a good woman", makes her feel special.

Actors in the movie are first rate and are very believable. Sasson Gabai as Tawfeeq and Ronit Elkabetz as Dina were exceptional inin my point of view. But its the other departments that make the movie special. The art direction (Nikolai Yosifov), the cinematography (Shai Goldman) and the direction (Eran Kolirin) gives this fairly low-budget movie a real good look. A special mention needs to be given to the film editor (Aric Leibovitch) who adds those extra-moments in the prelude scenes of the symphonic sequences that follows.

All in all , do watch it if you get time, its about simple things that make life and bonding with others special.
You might find this movie being played on UTV world movies sometimes.
The Band's Visit- Bikur Ha-Tizmoret (2007)
Language : Arabic / English / HebrewRunning
Time : 87 Minutes
Writer / Director : Eran Kolirin

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