Tuesday, September 16, 2008
"Mahmoud Darwich: As the Land is the Language"
Simone Bitton's documentary about Palestian poet Mahmoud Darwish offered striking photographs and film footage from throughout the late poet's life and career including the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1967, his early fame (gorgeous man, always smoking), political imprisonment, and life in exile in Russian, Tunisia and Paris (a city he claimed to love because he didn't speak French). Crowds of people attended his readings, some of the crying and mouthing the words, others sleeping. The landscape of Palestine and Jordan also takes a lead role in this documentary with sweeping shots of the Dead Sea and Galilee and closeups of Darwish's return later in life. Darwish's comments on love (he believed "institutionalized" love would interfere with his need for isolation), his poetic attraction to the sea (the first rhythm experienced by humanity), and his explanation that the word for poetry in Arabic language is equivalent to the word for "home," speak to his obsessive commitment to his art, legacy, and, perhaps, his fame. The soundtrack was mostly Marcel Khalife and included "Rita," one of Darwish's love poems to his first love.