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Growing Accustomed to Beirut's Scars
By Rebecca Joubin
Falling From Earth
Directed by Chadi Zineddine
Promenade Films & Wizz Production, 2008, 70 minutes
The film commences with the serene image of a small boat floating on rippling water, surrounded by green trees, lofty mountains, and the enchanting music of songbirds. Slowly the camera moves further and further away from the pureness of nature, and suddenly there is the shrill sound of an explosion. “That sound,” says the narrator, is a sound he was never able to forget, for it spared no one and nothing. It was sound that his children and grandchildren, who were born between the wars, grew accustomed to. When the narrator opened his mouth to scream in protest, he found himself voiceless.
Zeneddine divides his film into short chapters indicating important moments in the history of Beirut, such as Beirut Chapter 1990: Being, Beirut Chapter 1975, and Beirut Chapter 1985. With the lack of chronology, the entering and exiting of new characters, and continual shifting of language registers from English, Italian, Arabic and French, Zeneddine unsettles us and gives us a deeper understanding of a scarred city and disruption of normal relations. It is as if the narrator is Beirut when he laments that everyone walks over him leaving him mutilated; and he hopes that others can leave just one small breath of life in him.
This review appears in Al Jadid, Vol. 15, no. 61 (2009)