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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Conflict: A View from Palestine
It is refreshing to visit the Israeli/Palestinian conflict form a vantage too seldom shared in cinema. Director Julian Schnabel once again proves that he understands human responses in the face of political conflict. Rula Jebreal has adapted her own novel which in turn is a biography of her involvement in the history of the Palestinian conflict. It is a touching...
Published on July 14, 2011 by Grady Harp

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Miral
I wasn't sure what to expect with this movie. I knew it would probably be sad, and interesting at the same time, while still being a drama type movie. It definitely wasn't near what I had thought.

The movie takes place throughout the 1950's on during a time when Palestine and Israel were fighting each other for their rights and country. During this, it shows...
Published on September 27, 2011 by M. Reynard


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Conflict: A View from Palestine, July 14, 2011
By 
This review is from: Miral (DVD)
It is refreshing to visit the Israeli/Palestinian conflict form a vantage too seldom shared in cinema. Director Julian Schnabel once again proves that he understands human responses in the face of political conflict. Rula Jebreal has adapted her own novel which in turn is a biography of her involvement in the history of the Palestinian conflict. It is a touching recounting of the events that took place form 1947 to the present and it leaves the window open for much conversation.

The film opens with a party held by Bertha Spafford (Vanessa Redgrave) in 1947 when she asks her guest to forget the conflict outside for a celebration of Christmas: the party is attended by both her Jewish and Arabic friends, the centerpiece being the Christmas tree brought yearly by the Husseini family and then replanted to restore the earth. Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass) is there and meets Eddie (Willem Dafoe), an American friend of Bertha. A year latter in 1948 there is an Arab-Israeli War, the Deir Yassin Massacre, and the establishment of the state of Israel. The wealthy Hind Husseini encounters 55 starving children, victims of the war, and take s them home to establish what will become the Dar Al-Tifel Institute, a school for Arab orphans that within months grew to a population of 2000. The film then jumps forward and we meet Nadia (Yasmine Al Massri), an abused alcoholic who is imprisoned and there meets devout Muslim Jamal (Alexander Siddig) who later becomes her husband: Nadia, unable to change her life, drowns herself when their child is only 7 years old. It is now 1978 and Jamal brings his daughter Miral (Yolanda El Karam) to the keeping of Hind, reassuring her that he will see her on weekends. Time passes to 1988 and the older Miral (Freida Pinto) is victim to the intifada (uprising), is sent to a refugee camp where she falls in love with the PLO leader Hani (Omar Metwally) and commits to the Palestinian movement to secure a land of peace called Palestine that will be free of the Israeli governance and jurisdiction. Hind encourages Miral to follow her heart and convictions: it is the development of change represented by Hind, Nada, and Miral that personalizes this compelling epic. Though the conflict between Palestine and Israel continues to this day, this film allows us to appreciate the Palestinian response to the loss of their land and home by a international ruling to create the state of Israel.

Cinematographer Eric Gautier mixes the hot sun washed Palestine footage of the real intifada and the result is mesmerizing. The real star of this film is Hiam Abbass who as the gradually aging Hind Husseini brings the story to life. The large cast is excellent with special kudos to Alexander Siddig, Omar Metwally, and Freida Pinto: the presence of Vanessa Redgrave and Willem Dafoe add credibility tot he proceedings but their roles are minimal. Julian Schnabel is to be congratulated for bringing to light the 'other side' of the Arab/Israeli conflict. He gives us excellent food for thought. Grady Harp, July 11
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coming-Of-Age In A War-Torn Land--A Thoughtful Film That Leaves Its Most Compelling Characters Unexplored, June 30, 2011
This review is from: Miral [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
After critical success with "Basquiat," "Before Night Falls," and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"--I was a little surprised that Julian Schnabel's latest feature "Miral" flew as under the radar as it did. Based on the affecting memoir of journalist Rula Jebreal (who takes a screenplay credit as well), it tells the story of a Palestinian girl growing up amongst the eternal struggles between Palestine and Israel. It is an unorthodox and interesting viewpoint to see events of international consequence filtered through such an intimate perspective. Growing up under military occupation, having hatred and fear as a part of your every day existence--the potential for powerful self exploration and deep drama is inherent. But, in many ways, the film wants to tell several stories by introducing three fascinating female characters before Miral (Slumdog Millionaire's Freida Pinto) is even in the picture. That's fine, of course, but in the grand scheme of things--I'm not sure if those life stories (left largely unexplored) weren't inherently more interesting than the one settled on. In particular, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass)--a truly remarkable woman who dedicated her life to caring for orphans in the war-torn area.

The film's tag line "Is this the face of a terrorist?" also doesn't serve the movie well in setting up expectations. This is a coming-of-age story where a young women must come to terms with the economic, social and political climate of the area and time in which she was born. Sure, extremism and violent protest are a part of that world and Miral becomes entrenched in it--but this is hardly an examination of modern terrorism. It is a character study of how one adapts to such an environment when it is an inherent part of life. Miral's father leaves her with Husseini so that she may get the advantages and education that will help her avoid the pitfalls that doomed her mother. And the strongest elements within Miral's personal journey are her bonds with both her father and her adoptive mother figure. It is in personal moments shared between these characters that the film's quiet voice speaks much more powerfully.

Schnabel incorporates plenty of stock archival footage into the film to put the historical story in context. This is great and helpful, but you'll likely get more from the film if you have some knowledge of the political situation prior to viewing the movie. We haven't traditionally seen too many English language films that have viewed the conflict from the Palestinian perspective, so that may be off-putting or controversial to some. However, the story is more concerned with intimate human drama than in grand-standing. Fans of Vanessa Redgrave and Willem Dafoe should take note that they are barely in the movie (she has one scene, he two), so if that's of primary interest--you've been alerted. All in all, Miral is a good movie and surprisingly understated. But seriously, Hind is the most intriguingly complex character in the film--and her story seems so much bigger than the main narrative! KGHarris, 6/11.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an honest and beautiful film, July 12, 2011
By 
DVD Verdict (Santa Monica, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Miral [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Judge Daryl Loomis, DVD Verdict-- First and foremost, Miral is not propaganda, no matter what some reviews of the film would have you believe. I can show you propaganda, dark and evil material that is shockingly persuasive, but this is not that. Miral is more akin to Gillo Pontecorvo's incredible Battle of Algiers than it is to, say, any 1970s East German animation one might come across. Ultimately, I understand a pro-Palestinian film made by a Jewish director from an autobiographical book by Rula Jebreal, his Palestinian partner, is bound to drive opinions to already-established hard and fast views on the situation. If viewers can set those politics aside, however, they will be rewarded a gorgeous film of outward emotion and humanity, one that should be regarded as equal or greater to the rest of the catalog of director Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), one that people owe themselves to watch.

Miral receives a lovely Blu-ray package from Anchor Bay. The 2.35:1 1080p image is impeccable, featuring perfect color balance and detail. The cinematography by Eric Gaultier (Into the Wild) is impeccable, and some shots are downright chill-inducing; the disc is a fantastic showcase for his talent. The landscapes and the interiors are brilliant in their clarity, detail, and color balance; this is a reference-quality image. The 5.1 DTS-HD audio isn't quite as strong, but it's well balanced and robust. Miral is presented in English, with the occasional snippets of Arabic and Hebrew, and all of it is nice and clear. Schnabel uses a heavy amount of popular music for the score, including two Tom Waits songs as end credit music; all of it very effective.

We also get a good slate of extras. Schnabel conducts an excellent audio commentary with producer Jon Kilik, filled with production information, background, and a few heartbreaking stories of people who appeared in the film. For example, one of his Palestinian actors, a theater owner in Gaza, was assassinated by a religious extremist for what he considered a too liberal production of Cinderella. That it occurred literally two weeks before Schnabel recorded the commentary makes the emotional nature of the story even more powerful. A slate of deleted scenes are all very good, most of which could have been included in the final cut. A short making-of featurette gives us time with Rula Jebreal, who explains some of the differences between the book and the movie, including scenes she deemed too painful to write, but Schnabel demanded be used in the film. A filmmaker question-and-answer session gives us more of the same, and a featurette called "Julian Schnabel Studio Tour" is unnecessary. All in all, an outstanding release for an outstanding film.
-Full review at dvdverdict.com
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coming-Of-Age In A War-Torn Land--A Thoughtful Film That Leaves Its Most Compelling Characters Unexplored, July 12, 2011
This review is from: Miral (Amazon Instant Video)
After critical success with "Basquiat," "Before Night Falls," and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"--I was a little surprised that Julian Schnabel's latest feature "Miral" flew as under the radar as it did. Based on the affecting memoir of journalist Rula Jebreal (who takes a screenplay credit as well), it tells the story of a Palestinian girl growing up amongst the eternal struggles between Palestine and Israel. It is an unorthodox and interesting viewpoint to see events of international consequence filtered through such an intimate perspective. Growing up under military occupation, having hatred and fear as a part of your every day existence--the potential for powerful self exploration and deep drama is inherent. But, in many ways, the film wants to tell several stories by introducing three fascinating female characters before Miral (Slumdog Millionaire's Freida Pinto) is even in the picture. That's fine, of course, but in the grand scheme of things--I'm not sure if those life stories (left largely unexplored) weren't inherently more interesting than the one settled on. In particular, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass)--a truly remarkable woman who dedicated her life to caring for orphans in the war-torn area.

The film's tag line "Is this the face of a terrorist?" also doesn't serve the movie well in setting up expectations. This is a coming-of-age story where a young women must come to terms with the economic, social and political climate of the area and time in which she was born. Sure, extremism and violent protest are a part of that world and Miral becomes entrenched in it--but this is hardly an examination of modern terrorism. It is a character study of how one adapts to such an environment when it is an inherent part of life. Miral's father leaves her with Husseini so that she may get the advantages and education that will help her avoid the pitfalls that doomed her mother. And the strongest elements within Miral's personal journey are her bonds with both her father and her adoptive mother figure. It is in personal moments shared between these characters that the film's quiet voice speaks much more powerfully.

Schnabel incorporates plenty of stock archival footage into the film to put the historical story in context. This is great and helpful, but you'll likely get more from the film if you have some knowledge of the political situation prior to viewing the movie. We haven't traditionally seen too many English language films that have viewed the conflict from the Palestinian perspective, so that may be off-putting or controversial to some. However, the story is more concerned with intimate human drama than in grand-standing. Fans of Vanessa Redgrave and Willem Dafoe should take note that they are barely in the movie (she has one scene, he two), so if that's of primary interest--you've been alerted. All in all, Miral is a good movie and surprisingly understated. But seriously, Hind is the most intriguingly complex character in the film--and her story seems so much bigger than the main narrative! KGHarris, 6/11.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miral, July 7, 2011
This review is from: Miral [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Julian Schnabel is a genuine artist, a true risk-taker. He is a respected painter, a writer, and he even recorded an album. And, true to his genius, he is also a filmmaker, having directed unique, non-commercial, yet critical successes as "Basquiat" (1996), "Before Night Falls" (2000), and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (2007). His most recent film, the passionate and eye-opening "Miral," follows this special pattern, this time taking a sincere look at the lives of Palestinian women.

The film is based on a true story from a book by Rula Jebreal, and it begins at a party on Christmas day, 1947. It is there that we are introduced to Hind Husseini (the wonderful Hiam Abbass), who unbeknown to us, will be the most important character - the glue, if you will -- in the movie. This party, perhaps, will be the last happy one that its guests attended. Schnabel then proceeds to show archival footage of the establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel, which would later be referred to as the State of Israel. We are then taken to Jerusalem in 1948, and we find Hind walking on its streets, where she meets a group of homeless children that were displaced due to bombings. She feels sorry for them, takes them home, and eight months later she successfully creates a school for Palestinian children. The director moves forward to 1967, and, as a result of the Six Day War, this time Hind is now limited to the Palestinian sector of East Jerusalem.

After Schnabel introduces us to Hind, we begin meeting other Palestinian women that are victims of racial, political or sexual abuse. One of them is Miral (Freida Pinto), who is raised by her loving father. He tries his best to protect Miral against her surroundings, by sending her to Hind's school. However, it is difficult to escape reality in Palestine, especially in 1987, during the first Intifada, where Miral sees firsthand the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis. Miral, as you can imagine, will have to make some serious choices in order to survive a harsh life under occupation.

Although "Miral" is mostly about Miral's journey in life, it is also, as I indicated earlier, about the lives of Palestinian women under difficult circumstances, both internal and external from their homes. It is also about women, like Hind Husseini, who made a difference. But Schnabel also presents a subtle, smart portrait of a society subjugated by a powerful neighbor, and how they live day by day. A real gem that deserved a better audience. The Blu-ray includes deleted scenes, making-of documentary, filmmaker Q&A, commentaries by Schnabel and producer Jon Kilik. (France, Israel, Italy, India; 2010; color and B&W; 106 mins plus additional materials). Reviewed on July 7, 2011 by Eric Gonzalez exclusively for The Weinstein Company / Anchor Bay Entertainment.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Viewing if You Really Want to See Peace in the Middle East, September 3, 2011
This review is from: Miral (DVD)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I held off watching this film for a few weeks. I guess I was dreading the typical Arab stereotypes...or a too political message. I didn't get either.

Often Americans are prone to stereotypes about Palestinians, Arabs, and the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We're also woefully uninformed on the history of the creation of Israel itself. Read about the creation on Wikipedia. Look at the documents. See how the division was meant to be--and look at it now. The only way there will ever be peace in Israel and Palestine is when we value the life of a Palestinian child as much as we do an Israeli one. Sadly, we are very far from that point here. It's not wrong that we're horrified if an innocent Israeli is killed. But it is wrong that we're not equally horrified when an innocent Palestinian is killed. Even in the recent Gaza war, when over a thousand innocent Palestinian men, women, and children died (vs. 9 Israelis--6 soldiers), we basically did nothing. We were silent, even when it was US-made weapons and US funded troops that killed those people. That needs to stop.

Julian Schnabel's "Miral" is a good first step. It shatters some stereotypes--and yes, they are stereotypes. We meet the very real woman Hind Huseeini, a single Palestinian woman who rescued 55 orphans from the Deir Yassin massacre--and then founded a school/orphanage for them. Her school eventually evolved into a very well respected girls school--still in existence. No, she's not your stereotypical "repressed" Muslim/Arab woman.

Without giving away too much, pretty much all of the characters go against stereotype which is nice. Miral's Dad, Jamal, is an extremely loving father and husband--which is not unique in the Arab world either.

I hope "Miral" is nominated for an Academy Award--not only was it a great film, but it deserves a wider audience. No matter whose side (if any) you are on regarding Israel/Palestine, seeing both sides as human beings... .seeing every 17 year old arrested or killed as a real 17 year old, with hopes, dreams, friends...is vital if you truly want to work for a fair, peaceful solution for both sides.

Bravo. Highly recommended. We need more Hind Huseeini's in the world. And more films like this--which humanize the Palestinians so that hopefully there truly can be a peaceful solution in the near future.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Film With Powerful Ideas And Images., August 12, 2011
By 
Robert Blake (Santa Monica, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Miral (DVD)
"Miral" is the first mainstream film distributed by a major US company (The Weinstein Company) to look at the Middle East conflict from the Palestinian point of view. Interestingly enough, Israeli filmmakers have tackled the occupation with even stronger, more graphic works ("Lebanon," "Waltz With Bashir"), yet Julian Schnabel goes beyond them by trying to put us in the shoes of the Palestinian people. Hardcore Israeli nationalists or pro-Israel types will no doubt scoff at the story and images Schnabel presents, but films that dare to tell hard truths cannot please everyone, in the end that's what weakens the ending of "Miral" which does attempt to make everyone feel better about a conflict that one could say hasn't even reached its climax yet. Still, this is a strong, memorable film with lots of heart.

The film is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Rula Jebreal which recounts the efforts of Hindi Husseini (Hiam Abbass) to establish and run an orphenage and school for Palestinian youths, the seed is planted when she takes in numerous refugee children who's homes were destroyed during the founding of the Israeli state in 1948. In poetic fashion the film shifts in-between stories involving Husseini, a tortured woman named Nadia (Yasmine Elmarsi) who falls into the depths of alcoholism despite the love of her husband Jamal (Alexander Siddig). Their daughter Nadia ends up going to school in Husseini's institute and through her we experience the Intifada years of the 1980s, the struggle to live under occupation, the discovery of humanity despite the terror and ideas for unity which find it hard to sprout in an atmosphere of war.

"Miral" was mostly ignored when it was released in very limited fashion, few of the major critics bothered to review it, and yet this is a brave film to make in these times. Schnabel manages to create a film that isn't a soap box, it is a very human work that allows us to experience a current, geopolitical situation through the PEOPLE living it. The film does not look away from historical fact, it does not present stereotypes of Arab characters, like Salvador Carrasco's "The Other Conquest" it tells a story about a people who lived for centuries in an area which was suddenly chopped up, divided and parceled out. "Miral" doesn't turn the Palestinian people into shadows in the background, it has real characters, sharply written, not proclaiming fundamentalist, radical religious slogans, but demanding the basic right to a home free of colonial domination. In its exploration of violence and armed resistance as a product of colonial attitudes the film has moments comparable to "The Battle Of Algiers."

As a work of cinema "Miral" is a visually powerful experience. The cinematography by Eric Gautier uses color to express emotions, moods, creating a hypnotic palette. There are moments of great impact where Schnabel uses his camera to poetic effect, in a scene where a characters commits suicide by walking deeper and deeper into an ocean the scene cuts to the point of view of the eyes, as wave after wave grows and encases us in a tomb of sea.

One impressive revelation in "Miral" is Freida Pinto's performance. Here she graduates to a higher level than what we saw in "Slumdog Millionaire" which was more of a flashy soap opera compared to what she does here. Pinto projects real force and heart. Hiam Abbass is a strong oak of wisdom and experience.

Of course what "Miral" will do more than inspire admiration for its craft is provoke political debates. But those expecting a purely militant, pro-Palestinian film will be surprised by the screenplay's humanity and disregard for racial/cultural barriers. One section deals with an Arab man's romantic relationship with an Israeli Jew. The scenes involving this story element don't even feel like some obvious attempt to be politically correct, the characters speak with basic common sense, like human beings living in a reality that imposes idiotic rules. Schnabel bravely shows the realities of the Israeli occupation with a fierce urgency and clarity, we see Israeli troops demolish a Palestinian home in a refugee camp based on flimsy excuses. The displacement which took place in 1948 is also shown with a surprising honesty, some will complain and offer nationalist, religious responses or attacks, but to them I can only recommend the basic scholarship such as the writings of Uri Avnery, Gideon Levy or David Hirst's excellent recent book "Beware Of Small States."

The only weakness in "Miral" is it's ending which tries to find some sort of happy ending to a story which is still ongoing. The basic focus of the closure is the Oslo Accords, which collapsed and resulted in the 2000 Intifada, and today Oslo is such a weakened document that the current Netanyahu regime has even considered tossing it away (if Netanyahu can survive the current, mass social protests in Israel). The film does have enough of a convincing happy ending with where Miral's life goes, but the film seems to suggest that the Oslo Accords is the medicine to the problem when those familiar with the history know it's as good as buried. But still, "Miral" is a very good movie that dares to speak out from the corner of an oppressed, struggling people. Postmodernism be damned, there are groups and people fighting for dignity and freedom who deserve to have their voices expressed on the big screen. I suspect "Miral's" stature will grow with time and will be discovered on DVD by those seeking more meaningful films in the current sea of consumerist distraction. This is a special film that deserves to be seen, discussed, fought over and even more important: It may open the door for others.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At least see if not own this true life story of living within conflict, July 29, 2011
By 
Harold Wolf "Doc" (Wells, IN United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Miral (Amazon Instant Video)
A Palestinian orphan girl's story/perspective of education, love, country, and struggle while living amid conflict (psychological and historical), a longing for peace. It begins with Israel's freedom in 1947 when Hind (Hiam Abbass) starts a girl's school, Dar El Tifl, to save and educate young girls. The drama is based on "Miral" (auto-bio novel by Rula Jebreal), screenplay by the same writer, who literally was Miral. Miral (Freida Pinto) is sent to Dar El Tifl, thus making the connection between two powerful female characters, in film and real life. Miral's mother could be considered a 3rd important figure. But this is not a women's-lib film. It's much deeper, even much more beyond the Arab-Israel conflict itself. It's about humanity, not religious/political differences, and how common people must step up when caught up in conflict.

The cinematography is excellent, beautiful and moving. Cast includes some stars, but a lot of relatively unknowns. Vanessa Redgrave, Willem Dafoe, and Alexander Siddig add the star status, but only Siddig as Miral's papa gets much screen time. The story is so good, so emotional, so compelling, that star attraction is unnecessary. Anyone trying to turn this into something other than the struggles of people living in the midst of war/conflict is off base. It's all history, and a gutsy, powerful look at life as one generation passes off to another even while human conflict remains volatile. Is peace possible? It's not happened in real life yet. This form of human conflict living happened often in history: America's Civil War-N vs S; Irish Catholics vs British Protestants; The 60s Deep South's Black/White struggle, and other places in our world today.

Recommended adult viewing. You will never forget Miral once you meet her.
Rated PG-13 but I'd not recommend kids. There is violence, a rape scene, and a torture beating scene, not long, but long enough. It's just not kid friendly; it is real life amid conflict.

Filmed in Jerusalem, Israel.
DVD does have SUBTITLES, both Eng & Spanish.
Bonus: Commentary from Director & Producer. Deleted Scenes. Making Of Miral includes subtitles also. Dir Julian Schnabel's paint studio (his film directing is better than his painting). Q & As.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nazz-Miral, December 28, 2010
This is a true story, oh what a story this is. A story of perseverance , struggle and success. The story of a young woman who is an example of bravery, self confidence, beauty and reseliance. I would love for everybody to watch this film and read the book. It really is worth you time.
I Love Miral
xoxo

Miral: A Novel
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable for knowledgable audiences, November 12, 2012
By 
G. Dawson (United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Miral (DVD)
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Miral is the story of a Palestinian girl growing up in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike most media representations of this conflict, this story is told from the Palestinian perspective. I congratulate director Julian Schnabel for his courageous movie and for giving us a unique perspective.

Although Miral tells a personal story, viewers will understand the personal story better if they have some knowledge of the political backdrop. Schnabel gives us a bit of help with the context, but he expects us to come into the movie with a general understanding of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I've studied the conflict in some depth, so I was able to easily follow the action and the political developments. However, I'm guessing many Americans, particularly those in the younger generations, don't have that kind of understanding these days.
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Miral
Miral by Julian Schnabel
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