The Square (2013) (Not Rated)
"The Square" is now famous because of Netflix. The company, which has been raking in awards and breaking stereotypes this year has recently got its first Oscar nomination thanks to this film. Nominated for Best Documentary, "The Square" recounts the times of the Egyptian revolution from 2011 to present and I would argue that this is one of the most important films to come out in recent years. The film is much more important and too demanding to be remembered simply because of the company that released it.
I have often thought about what makes movies great. Not just entertaining. But what makes a movie truly great? The answer that I came up with is truth. Even in movies where there is no rational thought, if a truth can be revealed, the movie has a more likely chance of being great—this is my opinion, feel free to disagree. So documentaries already have this lined up. Some seek to educate, some seek to create a change, some seek to entertain.
"The Square" attempts to show change, ask for change, and pray for change.
Beginning in 2011, the film shows how Tahrir Square was occupied by protestors who were tired of the police brutality that civilians were receiving under the regime of the leader Mubarak. Days in and days out they spent time, exercising their right to a very large "sit-in". Soon, their numbers became too large to ignore and Mubarak resigned. The people rejoiced because they thought that they had won the battle and they soon dispersed.
But the regime continued. Though it was no longer Mubarak, it was people with his ideals that were now running Egypt and the people still were treated brutally. Back to the square went the people, but their power had decreased in drastic percentages. They didn't think their revolution through logically and assumed that the fall of Mubarak meant the same thing as a new regime. They found out differently.
In Tahrir Square, the revolution starts to grow again and the military force is unhappy with this. Violent outbreaks occur. The military will run over civilians with their jeeps and tanks, shoot live bullets at the protestors. Hundreds are wounded and many die, but the revolutions continue.
Shot in many different ways, we are left with a decision to make for ourselves. Obviously, the film caters to the protestors, but they are not so easily defined as "those who hate the state". There is one group who just wants their civil rights, the original protestors if we are to believe the film; and then there's the Muslim Brotherhood which piggybacked the emotion of the protest and overwhelmed it, consumed with their own agenda.
Now the rebels are fighting amongst themselves and even less is happening.
"The Square" is a film that has no resolution because no resolution is clearly visible without years of hindsight. The protestors pray that they have made the right decision and they continue to fight for their rights; but in the end, how do they know they are being successful? What will give them gratification?
One of the men interviewed in the film, actor Khalid Abdala, makes a very interesting and revealing statement. He's talking to his father and he says that if he is able to gain a centimeter, he will gain it—if he can force a hand, he will force it. Why, when he has the capability to protest, would he not?
The main force of the main, the man interviewed the most often is Ahmed Hassan. He embodies the voice of the people in all its passion, truth, and irrationality.
Director Jehane Noujaim does a remarkable thing with this movie. She manages to create an emotionally compelling, equally balanced piece that never feels preachy.
Deeply human, important to see, "The Square" is a film that will never lose its potency.
It sometimes gets carried away by its own sentimentality, but how could it not? Faced with the trials of the people for years on end, this film has a right to overplay its card.
It will go down in the books and Netflix's name will be forgotten, because the film is transcending.
Posted by Micah Jones