Movie of the Week: Under the Bombs
For 34 days in 2006, the Israeli Defense Force bombed civilian targets throughout Lebanon purportedly in response to the abduction of several Israeli soldiers by the political and militant group, Hezbollah. As in all conflicts, exact numbers of the dead and wounded are up for debate, but estimates indicate that up to 1300 Lebanese civilians died in the attacks, along with a number of military deaths. The devastation to Lebanese civilian life and infrastructure was widespread and all inclusive.
The war began on July 12th, 2006. Lebanese-French filmmaker Phillippe Aractingi travelled to Lebanon and began filming Under the Bombs just ten days later, in the midst of the bombing. He recruited two actors and had them ad lib a rudimentary story within the conflict, shooting the entire film with a small hand held camera. All other actors are real people: victims, people involved in the clean-up and body searches or angry locals caught in the middle of a senseless political conflict. The acting is not perfect, as all scenes appear to be first takes, but the scenery is such that the juxtaposition of actors upon true devastation makes the great human and social costs of the conflict more real than any documentary could be.
It is a superb movie, and a great example of guerrilla film-making at it’s best, mending documentary with fiction and attempting to capture the complex lives of those caught in the middle of the Arab-Israel conflict. It’s easy to see how big budget blockbuster films like the Hurt Locker were inspired by Under the Bombs, both movies being a melding of honest fact and fiction set in the middle east. However, Under the Bombs takes no real political side, instead focusing upon residents, who largely care little about the conflict and care more about the stability of their own everyday lives.