Saturday, March 29, 2008

In the shadows of the city - طيف المدينة

a screenshot from "In the Shadows of the City"

This film is among the first produced after the civil war that ravaged Lebanon, so it's natural to find it falling into the category that tries to discuss this issue, and more precisely, we found this movie dealing with the evolution of the Lebanese citizen mind with respect to a conflict ravaging its country.
The starting scene shows a family in the south of the country suffering after fights erupts in that region to decide later to go settle in the capital. The main character is Rami a 12 years old boy of this southern family, he grows to be incarnated by Majdi Machmouchi who plays the role in a highly professional way playing a militia man, an ambulance guy, and a person in love.
Despite the fact that during the shooting of the movie, the reconstruction of Lebanon was on its way, the movie team managed, in some sort of race with time, to get pretty successful shots of the Beirut during the war period, mainly focusing on areas and discreet that have'nt being hit by the reconstruction phase and remained in ruins long after the war is over.
Jean Khalil Chamoun did a great job with his first long feature fiction, with a plot, that does not include any surprises, yet the purpose was to show the influence of the war that manipulates people. He managed to include prominent actors like Ahmad Al Zein and Ammar Chalak... The original music by Omar Bashir was well touching. I'm not aware of other fictions by Chamoun, since he's apparently focusing mainly on documentaries for the moment.
The movie was not a box-office hit in Lebanon once it has been released in 2000, mainly because Lebanese were trying to put (and maybe forget) the past behind focusing on the future. Every Lebanese is urged to watch movies of this kind as a faithful description of the civil war and as a way of understanding that civil fighting does not induce gain to any party.