Miral (2010) Poster

(2010)

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8/10
Touching Portrait of a Young Girl
nyshrink27 March 2011
I was amazed at how non-political this movie was. There was a great deal of controversy around it, so I was expecting a polemic. It was nothing of the kind. It portrays the childhood and adolescence of a Palestinian girl, along with stories of her mother and her school headmistress. These stories illustrate, to some degree, the Palestinian history from 1947 to 1993. But the focus is on the women's stories. I think this is a movie that will be appreciated far more by women than by men. It is poignant and respectful. Most women will find something with which to identify in this film. The cinematography is beautiful and the lead actors are compelling in their roles. The movie has been criticized as disjointed, but that's because real life does not have a formulaic dramatic arc. And sadly, there is no "conclusion" to the movie because the conflict is ongoing.
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9/10
One of the most important reviews I have added to IMDb
jwbeller9 April 2011
Run, don't walk, to see this movie. If you miss it while it is in the theaters, put it in your Netflix queue. My wife and I see a lot of movies, independent and mainstream and this is one of the best.

Yesterday we saw a mainstream movie, Hanna, which was a major disappointment, except for the excellent acting of Saoirse Ronan. I gave it a 5 because the story was so terrible and I didn't have any emotional involvement concerning what happened to Hanna.

We generally don't go to two movies, two days in a row, but I was so disappointed in Hanna and have been interested in possibly seeing Miral since I heard Rula Jebreal on NPR's Tell Me More. She wrote the novel and the screenplay the movie was based on. I was surprised that she received such a chilly reception on the show, so I remembered to check out the movie online.

On METACRITIC, which contains reviews by major critics, there were 17 reviews; 3 positive, 12 mixed and 2 negative. Overall it was given a 45 out of 100 which means generally mixed reviews and near the low end of that scale. Keep in mind that Hanna got a 64 which means generally favorable reviews. I read a number of the critic's reviews of Miral as I often do before seeing a movie

I also read all of the six reviews available at that time on IMDb. There were only five usable as one was written by a person who, in my opinion, had an agenda and, based on his review, had not seen the movie.

Having consulted METACRITIC and IMDb, I was convinced that my wife and I might like this movie, but would probably not rate it above a 6 or 7 out of ten after we saw it. I always keep in mind that there are movies with overwhelming favorable reviews that I have hated, including The Diving Bell and The Butterfly which had the same director, Julian Schnabel, as this movie. Lost in Translation is also in that category.

My wife and I came to this movie without prejudice for one side or the other. We were just looking for a well made movie that would entertain us. We were so pleasantly surprised. The acting was excellent, the story involving, and we were quite tense in the last third of the movie. Unlike Hanna, we really cared what happen to Miral.

I agree with Spencergo, this movie should be seen by a wider audience, but I know it won't. The reason that this review is so important to me is most people will skip this movie because of the mixed reviews, and they shouldn't. Unfortunately, many independent films, like Rabbit Hole last year, get missed. I sincerely hope you give this movie a try if you can find it at your local independent theater.
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Quite Possibly the Best Palestinian-Israeli Film to Date
gavin694211 July 2011
A drama centered on an orphaned Palestinian girl (Freida Pinto) growing up in the wake of Arab-Israeli war who finds herself drawn into the conflict.

You might wonder: Freida Pinto is Indian, so why was she cast as Palestinian? -- Some critics took exception to this, or the idea that she is too beautiful to play an ordinary girl. Are ordinary girls not allowed to be beautiful? And while her Indian heritage may seem out of place, I think this should be overlooked in light of the fact she is a tremendous actress and sold the character well.

What is so great about this film is that the politics are not the issue. The life of a young girl is. This is a film that shows the humanity of the Palestinians -- the DVD cover asks if Miral has the "face of a terrorist". After seeing the film, you have to say no. While the story covers a wide swath of history, from 1947 to the 1993 Oslo agreement, the politics are not the problem.

Schnabel tells me many of the critics were negative, and I do see some complaints that the editing was choppy, or the bizarre remark that Schnabel does not know how to direct women. Presumably many critics took exception to the positive portrayal of the Palestinians and the negative portrayal of the Israelis.

In fact, though, this is how one might view the film if looking for a certain angle. The Israelis are presented negatively, yes, but not inaccurately. But the Palestinians are not really presented positively -- just as human beings. There is still a father telling her daughter not to get mixed up with the PLO, and one scene has a stepfather raping his wife's daughter. That can hardly be seen as being positive (though the real point here is that people should be judged as individuals, not as members of a group).

The cast is all excellent, with plenty of Arab flavor. We have Willem Dafoe (a native of my city, Appleton) and Vanessa Redgrave for the "white" aspect. And then Alexander Siddig, probably best known as Bashir from "Star Trek", somewhere in-between (Siddig was born in Sudan, but was educated in London).

The film is PG-13, making it less raw but more accessible to audiences. This may have toned down the realism a bit, but it in no way compromised the emotional outreach that was a steady undercurrent.

Geoffrey Macnab calls the film "courageous and groundbreaking", while Mike Goodridge calls it "sincere and thought-provoking". Both are correct. The more unusual comment comes from Claudia Puig, who says, "Schnabel puts his unmistakable dreamlike stamp on the film." Now, Schnabel is first and foremost a painter, so his goal is art. But to call this film "dreamlike" just seems off. This struck me as pure realism all the way. But who am I to judge?

Anyway, great film, and one that will be sure to spark discussion regardless of which side (if any) you stand on in the ongoing Middle East debate.
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9/10
Filming a book can be Naughty or nice!
Spencergo23 March 2011
First I must say that before seeing this film I had not read the book it was based on so I have to assume that the film follows the book. As the writer of the book also participated in the scripting of the film, one would think that this film is a collaboration between the author of the book and the director Julian Schnabel. This being said, I have tried to review this film without prejudice.

When the film ended my first thoughts were that this film would cause a stir as it is directed by a Jew and yet the subject matter of the film shows the Jewish State of Israel in a negative light. My concerns were not as much for the film itself, as it is a well made film, but for the attitude that the Jewish population would have towards the film. In my own experience, as someone who has been directly involved with distribution of film, whenever there is a group that has a negative response the distribution can go one of two ways; the first being limited distribution as some will not support showing the film in their theaters, and the second being a tremendous response to good cinema where theaters will take the risk and book the film at a national level. "Miral" a film that should have widespread distribution, because of what the Jewish population will do in response to the anti Israel theme, this film will be reduced to Art House distribution.

"Miral" deals with a Palestinian community in turmoil due to change. That change was the effect that the new Statehood of Israel caused. As with any new regimes change is mandatory and an often misunderstood process and the story of "Miral" reflects that process.

The film boasts a well woven story, competent acting, and a visceral message. This is a relevant film and well worth seeing. It is multiple-layered and a multiple-leveled film. It would be a shame if the Jewish Community misreads the intention of the film. Films like this do not come around often and avoiding it out of ignorance would be a mistake.

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6/10
Nice effort but disappointing
ignominia-15 July 2012
I did not know what the movie was about so when it started my first reaction was: "Oh no! not another movie on Jewish suffering!" I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this time the movie was about the Palestinian plight.

Kudos to that I say, nevertheless I found the story confusing. I am a fan of Julian Schnabel's work as director, but I expected more after The Bell-jar and the Butterfly which in my book was a masterpiece.

Miral (not an apt title for the subject matter) takes its time before getting to the main story and protagonist, telling first the tale of 3 other women: Her mother Nadia; Fatima the terrorist; and Hind the school master and surrogate mother to all orphans. Miral's arrival on the scene is almost an afterthought, hinted at by Nadia's vomit attack upon arriving in jail -if she is sickened by fear or by baby is not clear until much later on.

I wished the director let the people speak in Arabic and add subtitles -which were used only in the beginning- it would have made for a less Anglo-centric flavored film and the written text would have allowed the audience to catch important dialog that was otherwise drowned by the soundtrack. What Fatima says to the man who later becomes Nadia's husband, for example, would have explained later events. Same for what was exchanged between Miral and the Intifada member at the funeral, important words muffled in music.

Because of this and the confusing ways of past and present scenes mixing without a clear way to distinguish between them, the storyline of the movie was unclear, and so was its perception similar to walking in the dark, intuiting the outline of things but not getting the full picture.

All actors were good but Hiam Abass who played Hind stood out. Freida Pinto does not look authentic, I read she is of Indian heritage, but her beauty made the distressing story more bearable, if distracting.

Aside from this, it was refreshing to see a movie on this subject matter, produced and directed by major names in the movie industry. To see the Israeli seen as "bad guys" was almost shocking, what with the Jewish propaganda we get out of Hollywood all the time. The world needs to see Palestinian heroes, if nothing else to balance the way Arabs in general are portrayed in the movies. A movie worth seeing if NOT the ultimate picture on the subject.
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8/10
A film by Julian Schnabel about the a Palestinian girl with a troubled childhood caught up in the Israel/Palestine war and finding her way in life.
kevf2215 December 2010
This is a film by Julian Schnabel who directed the diving bell and the butterfly and for anyone who's saw that,you know how good it is so i had big expectations.It has small parts from Vanessa Redgrave(a Palestinian freedom activist in reality),William Dafoe(his roster of films that he's involved in is incredible,big respect for him)and then the only other face you'll know is Alexander Siddig as Miral's father if you ever watched star trek voyager.Hiam Abbass who plays Hind Hussaini i recognize from a great Israeli film i saw called lemon tree about the conflict as well. The film is based on a true story from a autobiographical book by Rula Jubreal and centered around the Palestine/Israel conflict between 1948 when Israel is created,the six day war period in 1967 and then the agreement between Israel and PLO in 1994. A big part of the story is focused on the girls school for Palestinian orphans(which still exists today)which was opened by Hind Hussain in the 40s after taking in orphaned kids after a bombing raid by Israeli's,and it is where Miral(played by Frieda Pinto),the main focus of the story ends up after a troubled childhood that leads her father to bring her there.It then takes us through into her teens when she starts to have indecisive thoughts on whether to take to violent route or peaceful route after being introduced to this by a PLO fighter and falling in love with him.She then gets introduced to Israelis when she moves in with her auntie who's son is going out with a Israeli and begins to realize that they are not all out to wipe out Palestinians. Throughout this film you are given good insight into both sides of the coin and what the director has achieved,for me,is a very balanced view and does not try to make it all roses in his method of showing cross community (the scene where her cousin introduces his Israeli girlfriend to his mother is not comfortable,likewise when Miral is introduced to the Israeli girls father).It's a very mature take on the conflict and gets the message across that dialog and a two state solution is the only answer at this time.Tie in with this,great camera-work,great settings,informative historical snapshots from the past,great acting all round and expertly crafted filming that show harrowing scenes but still keeping it a 12a,you have a really important film. This is great to see from a US director and i hope it reaches a big audience(a lot of it is in English)for as much coverage this conflict gets,it's often biased in one manner or another.Another great achievement for Julian Schnabel.
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The Conflict: A View from Palestine
gradyharp14 July 2011
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
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7/10
A raw and affecting look at the conflicts and struggles between Palestine and Israel
moviexclusive27 June 2011
Political films based on actual events are usually angry sentiments and have a strong point to make. This biographical drama is no different. Based on Rula Jebreal's novel, the emotionally charged production gives us an insight on the political unrest and instability happening on the other side of the world. Regard it educational if you will, this Julian Schnabel directed film will leave you wondering what it takes to live a life surrounded by the horrors of war.

The film chronicles Hind Husseini's effort to build an orphanage in Jerusalem after the 1948 Arab Israeli War. This began with her crossing paths with 55 orphaned children while on her way to work one day. She took them home and before she knew it, she had almost 2000 orphans under her care. The Dar Al-Tifel Institute was born, and thousands of orphaned children came under Husseini's care. Some 30 years later, Miral, a motherless child was sent to the orphanage by her father. Upon turning 17, she is sent to a refugee camp where she experiences the tension between Israel and Palestine, and the possible destructions it can bring to her own life.

Director Schnabel is known for his award winning works The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) and Before Night Falls (2000), and it comes as no surprise that the New York born filmmaker's latest project deals with such politically charged themes, despite the foreign lands the story takes place in. Through gritty cinematography (read: shaky camera work) and choppy editing (read: abrupt cuts and transitions), Schnabel shows us a world which we have only read about but never had the chance to experience. Sure, there may be no beautifully decorated sets with perfectly synchronized action sequences, but this is the slices of reality which the locals have to live with day after day.

It is also clear that the film presents a Palestinian perspective of things, and may appear one sided to viewers who are expecting this to be objective. Do note, however, that this is based on a memoir by Jebreal, and it is only natural that the war is seen through her eyes.

Amidst the violence and assaults, there is tenderness and compassion in the 112 minute film as Schnabel tells a story of remarkably strong women surviving in times of turmoil. Their intertwined tales may be unevenly told, but you'd feel a sense of passion and zeal as they go through life fighting for their beliefs and causes.

Playing the central character Husseini is Hiam Abbass (The Visitor, Munich), a Palestinian actress who injects the much needed fervour into her character. Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) plays the titular character, and viewers get to see how a girl who is initially brought up safely inside the orphanage's walls gradually grows into a young woman who is awakened by the reality around her and has to fight for her convictions. Appearing in supporting roles are familiar faces like Willem Dafoe (Daybreakers) and Vanessa Redgrave (Letters to Juliet) in the first few minutes of the film.

The film ends without any closure or resolution, which reflects the harsh realities happening on the other side of the planet we live in. And that, in our opinion, is the best way to leave us reflecting on the unnecessary pain and tragedies brought about by war.

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7/10
A Nutshell Review: Miral
DICK STEEL4 July 2011
Director Julian Schnabel tackles yet another biographical tale after his Diving Bell and the Butterfly, with a focus shifted to the Middle East conflict, but unlike the typical Hollywood production ranging from all out action like The Kingdom to heavier dramatic fare like Syriana, this film, an Indian-Italian-French-Israeli co-production stops short at passing judgement, opting to tread the middle ground in portraying as objective a viewpoint as possible, and does so through the eyes of the titular character Miral (Freida Pinto) being caught up in the scheme of her environment.

Curiously, this film is based on the novel by Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian journalist, whose book is an almost biographical account of her growing up and formative years, where she got brought up in an orphanage in Jerusalem established by Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass), whose notable exploits after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War include rescuing orphaned survivors from the Deir Yassin massacre and turning her home into an orphanage. So in essence we get to observe the story of two women caught up in extraordinary circumstances spanning a vast timeline right up to the establishment of the state of Israel and right through to various peace accords that are still trying to bear fruit, and one

The narrative is split into two halves, with the first centered on the tale of Hind Husseini, her sacrifice and achieving of her objective, before having the narrative shift toward that of Miral, clearly the poster girl since Freida Pinto's shot to fame in Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire might mean a lot more people giving this film a chance. Brought to Husseini's orphanage to be raised, we see the teenager getting awakened to the state of affairs of the land claimed by opposing sides, and getting caught between a rock and a hard place, where Husseini's counsel gets weighed against that of the brush of romance with the militant Hani (Omar Metwally), but of course don't come to expect flitting romantic scenes as the more powerful and thought provoking ones far outweigh affairs of the heart.

While the film offered two stories of two independently strong women, somehow it is the lack of a primary central figure that did it in, where it's most unfortunate to have the story quite scattered in its ambitious timeline in trying to condense an extremely complex political situation, no doubt adopting a micro view through the two different perspectives and principles in its leading characters. It sought to contrast viewpoints of those who deem education is the key out of their current plight, against those who wish to stand up and be counted, violence notwithstanding as a means to achieve an end.

Perhaps I was anticipating more, but with an ending quite abrupt, it leaves more questions than those answered and addressed, and perhaps so because it's still an open environment with no clear solutions in sight. Like how the characters have seen milestones set in their lifetime, I wonder if we in ours can eventually see something significantly charted out. The end title was a chilling reminder that it will take quite a while.
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6/10
Miral - a nice effort
sajj_malik4 December 2010
Movie revolves around the history of Israel and Palestine.The story of the movie is basically how war affects the life of people. How everyday's life co-exist with the horrors of war. One thing that I love about the movie was the unique camera angles and styles.First Half of the movie was like a roller-coaster in term of camera technique. It was like if the camera was narrating what the characters were feeling.Julian Schnabel did a good job,I think. The title of the movie is not an excellent choice because sometime character of Hind Husseini(Hiam Abbass) seem to overpower the Farida Pinto's character- Miral. Overall the movie did a great job in conveying its message and its not a must-watch but its also not a complete waste of time either.
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From a certain perspective, but definitely shows the conflict & a personal story how it is...simply
jsybird253223 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, I'd just like to mention that I am a Secular American Jew who may make Aliyah in the future.

Anyway, I actually just registered for IMDb being that I thought this movie was really worth reviewing here and that I think all my friends should see it, anyway, my review.

If you go into watching Miral expecting to see a plot with clear structure, intro to climax and conclusion, your expectations will not be met. However, if you go into Miral in order to learn more about the Arab-Israeli conflict and follow it from an honest, Palestinian perspective, you'll love this movie to death.

Although most people say that this movie is following the lives of two different Palestinian women, you're really only following one--Miral, the other woman doesn't really develop as a character throughout the film. Miral during the film goes through metamorphosis of perspective of sorts as she goes from being a revolutionary against the Israelis to realizing the goodness on both sides and believing in the possibility for peace.

But besides that, the events going around Miral paint a perfect picture of the conflict, as it is, nothing hidden. For example, in the film, you'll see a "Peace Protest" that turned violent that Miral participated in, as well mention of Jewish Settlements within the region of Judea and Samaria/the West Bank. You will also see tremendous hate on both sides, such as a Palestinian who in her blind hate became a suicide bomber killing innocent people she didn't know in a movie theater, and an Israeli father who "thinks all Palestinians are terrorists".

All in all, this is an absolutely fantastic film and I highly recommend it, but cautiously. As this film does not show much, if any of a separate Israeli perspective (Like most of the media involving the Israeli-Arab conflict, this film only shows one side, Arab or Israeli, and not the other), it is therefore somewhat biased in presentation by definition. The viewer should be careful and take heed of all events in the film as they are, simply, and through Miral's perspective while viewing for maximum enjoyment and understanding of the events depicted.
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7/10
Miral,it's a flower which grows along the roads.....
dbdumonteil24 September 2010
It is a true story:based on journalist's Rula Jebreal's autobiographic novel;Rula depicts her childhood and her adolescence in Jerusalem East as Miral ,an imam and a manic-depressive mother's daughter.Miral was brought up by Hind Al Hussein ,a Palestinian woman who took in a group of children victims of an Israeli attack and who founded a boarding-school for Palestinian children.

Miral turns seventeen: she is torn between her people's cause , its defense (do they have to resort to force?)and Hind's ideas :the only way is education ,understanding.These red flowers along the roads epitomize blood which has flowed.When there are too many deaths and too many wars,they do not heed to them anymore ,they do not pay attention more than they do to those "Mirals"

"Miral" reopens the debate,a pacifist one about a conflict which has received too much media exposure:none of the two people has any future if he denies his neighbor's well-being and dignity ;if this movie gets a message across ,it's this one .This epic takes place between the birth of the state of Israel (1948) and the Oslo agreement (1994).

With three exceptions (Vanessa Redgrave ,who was famous for her pro-Palestinian stand , Willem Dafoeand to a lesser degree Freida Pinto )the actors are unknown to the European audience.
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8/10
Compelling Memoir of an Israeli Palestinian Woman
j1stoner13 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
On a recent visit to New York about two weeks ago, I happened upon the opportunity to watch the movie "Miral", followed by a Q&A session with director Julian Schnabel ("Diving Bell and the Butterfly", one of my top 10 movies of the last decade), and with the writer of the screenplay and the memoir upon which the movie was based, Israeli Palestinian Rula Jebreal.

Jebreal's book is also named "Miral"; the movie and the book are the story of her youthful experiences growing up a Palestinian in Jerusalem, as well as stories about her mother and about a remarkable woman--named Hind Hussein--who started an orphanage and school there in the aftermath of the chaos around the creation of the Israeli state in 1947. Rula Jebreal was "Miral", a character named after a flower that grows by the side of the road in that region, and she grew up in the orphanage, attending the school, after the suicide of her mother (I believe it was the early '70's).

Filmed in a variety of great locations in Israel and the West Bank, the movie shows the misery and strife of military occupation from the point of view of Palestinians. Rula/Miral has the status of being an Israeli citizen, as her ancestors never left, and finds her identity as a Palestinian as a teenager. Miss Hind, the towering figure of the orphanage/school for some 40 years from the time she founded it, provides hope for the young girls there and does her best to protect them from the dangers of the intifada (uprising). At the story's end, she arranges for Miral to go to Italy to attend university, then dies, a local hero.

Rula's experiences include an infatuation with a young intifada leader who first supports the Al Fatah (PLO) position, then runs afoul of them and is killed as an accused traitor; she is taken by the Israeli authorities, interrogated, then blindfolded, bound, and beaten; her Israeli citizenship saved her from more prolonged imprisonment. Still, her experiences are not nearly as harsh as those the film recounts of her mother, who was abused and degraded, falsely imprisoned by the Israelis, and afterwards could not live with herself. Miral's "father" (the parentage was shown not to be biological) is one of the few positive male characters, a complicated character who was a devout Muslim, loyal to Miral's mother despite her infidelity, and a loving father, yet one who gives up custody of his daughter to the orphanage.

Beyond the range of the movie's story, Rula Jebreal became a journalist in Italy (as she said, "the first 'black' TV presenter there"). She spoke passionately at the Q&A session of her desire to raise awareness in the world of the plight of the Palestinians, though affirming her love of the area and acknowledging that she loves Israel as well. One thing she does not accept, and of which her life is testimony, is the Zionist notion that Israel is a Jewish state; though she came to have Jewish friends and appreciate their culture (some of which is shown in the movie), she wants a unitary state for all who live there.

The film is deeply affecting, though perhaps not as much as Schnabel's "Diving Bell". Frieda Pinto, the (South Asian) female lead of the smash hit 2008 movie "Slumdog Millionaire", is a bit of a controversial choice for the difficult role of Miral, but I will say that she brings to it something like the beauty which I witnessed that evening from Rula herself. Her father was played by an actor, Alexander Siddig, who seemed very familiar but I could not place: turns out he was a regular, Dr. Bashir, on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (not a great recommendation, I know, but his performance here was sympathetic and dignified). The other two key roles, both very challenging to portray, were those of Hind Hussein and of Miral's mother Nadia, played by Palestinian actresses, Hiam Abbass and Yasmine El Masri, respectively. Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave both lent their presence to the movie, though their roles are relatively small and peripheral to the story.

Schnabel spoke of the difficulty in getting official permissions to film in many locations, but also of the cooperation and passionate support for his effort that he sometimes found, and of the beauty of the region. He is known primarily as a painter, and is the son of prominent Jewish leaders, but has taken a courageous, independent political stance with this effort. He has run into some resistance from the Hollywood community, not too surprising considering the subject matter; he didn't need their help to make the film, but he will need it (and will not get it) to get broad enough distribution for him and Rula to accomplish their aim of raising political awareness. They may have to settle for the satisfaction of telling a compelling story beautifully, as both their political aims and commercial success will no doubt lie beyond their capability.
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8/10
Sad and powerful
billcr1230 April 2012
Miral is the true story of the founding of an orphanage in Jerusalem in 1948 during the Arab-Israeli war. Hind Husseini came across fifty five kids living in the streets and took them home for food and shelter. Six months later, she had two thousand children to look after.

Jumping forward to 1978, a five year old girl, Miral, whose mother has died, is sent there to live by her father. At fifteen, she is sent to teach at a refugee camp and sees first hand the suffering of the Palestinians. She meets a militant, Hani who tries to convince her of the need for a militaristic solution to the conflict. Her mentor, Hind Husseini believes that education is the key to their people's long term survival. Of course, in the end, no easy answer is provided. Freida Pinto is too distractingly beautiful as Miral, but she gives a good performance as the title character and the film is well worth a viewing.
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9/10
growing up under military occupation
lee_eisenberg10 April 2011
Without a doubt, the Israel-Palestine conflict has been one of the most controversial issues of the past few decades, and one on which very few movies are willing to focus. That makes Julian Schnabel's "Miral" all the more important.

The movie is based on Palestinian author Rula Jebreal's autobiography, focusing half on her childhood and half on the Dar al-Tifl Institute founded in the wake of the Deir Yassin Massacre. The institute's founder Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass) manages to keep the institute and its students safe from events outside. Miral (Freida Pinto) gets sent to Dar al-Tifl at the age of seven. Her life is mostly easy until the intifada, when Israel tightens security, making life even more difficult for the Palestinians. Miral's friend Hani (Omar Metwally) insists on taking militant action against the occupying forces, while Hind Husseini warns Miral not to do anything that endangers her future. In short, Miral has practically no good choices.

Aside from bringing up the Israel-Palestine conflict, part of what I like about "Miral" is that it shows the day-to-day lives of the Palestinians. The reminds us that these people about whom we usually hear in the context of war -- or simply get called terrorists -- are human beings. If the movie has any downside, it's that the jumping back and forth between Miral herself and Dar al-Tifl is a bit confusing at times, but overall I strongly recommend this movie.

Also starring Alexander Siddig, Makram Khoury, Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave (who of course mentioned Palestine while accepting her Oscar for "Julia").
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6/10
It's Meant to be a Subtle, Poignant Question, but it Feels Like a Movie.
eddiez6114 June 2011
Movies are not important. Despite what critics, producers, writers, directors, actors, IMDb commentors, or anyone else thinks, there's nothing about a movie that is inherently, genetically important. There are rarely, if ever, any dire consequences in choosing to watch a movie — no one's life is depending on it. The country, the planet, the universe could not care less about your film going habits.

But a great film can certainly affect us profoundly. This is an experience that we cherish and revere, and since we are so defensive of our emotional lives we define these compelling moments as important. The experience may be important, but the film is not. The film's just a vehicle, a messenger, a ploy to insinuate into our lives someone else's experience. That's why this film, Miral, is not nearly as wonderful as it could have been. It seems to have the attitude that it's important. This pompous disposition is not obvious, not flagrant, but it is persistent and distracting. And the great irony of it is that Julian Schnabel has purposely contrived his film hoping to avoid this very accusation.

It's a decidedly modest, nuanced and low key depiction of the terrible situation in the middle east as seen almost exclusively from the view point of Palestinian women. The film is self consciously playing against the thunderous, deafening roar of western media coverage of the conflict. Today we are daily deluged with horrific videos, graphic images and hysterical hyperbolic reports of the conflict; a formidable din over which sincere voices labor to be heard. So by playing it softly - speaking under the crowd - Miral draws attention to itself. Isn't that what a film is supposed to do, distinguish itself? Well, normally yes, a film doesn't have much choice but to flaunt itself, toot its own horn. But when the subject is so fundamentally daunting, so depressingly perplexing, so infuriatingly confounding - so important - it's bad taste to insist that we acknowledge the story teller as much as the story. By going so blatantly against the grain with his curious cinematic style Schnabel has directed our attention more so to his creation - and himself - at the expense of his film's subject. His artful approach served him so well in his previous films but here it sabotages his efforts. And just to be sure he's torpedoed the whole enterprise he closes it with the doleful, raspy croak of that beloved Palestinian crooner, Tom Waits. Tom Waits?! Oy vey, that's meshugenah!

Avoiding the cliché, dodging the obvious, scorning the conventional is the mortal pledge of any worthwhile artist, and so Julian can be partly forgiven his miscalculations. But an unpardonable fault is the lack of a truly capable, compelling character for us to focus on. His stars are beautiful and photogenic but so overwhelmed with the responsibilities with which they have been charged. They just don't have the chops to command our attention, and so our gaze and thoughts fix on other things, such as the film's distinctive stylization, and it's leap-frog time sequencing. The dialog is so stilted and labored; the actresses too often "reading" their lines. (Except, of course, Vanessa Redgrave, who should have been in much more of the film, maybe even reading everyone else's lines!) Though it's based on a true story many scenes ring false. I often found myself thinking "what a clever, well meaning film." That's a thought no film should ever illicit, at least not till it's over. While it's happening you should be engulfed in an experience, oblivious of yourself.

Set in the locale of what may well be "ground zero" in determining the fate of our world, Schnabel should have played up to the roiling, cacophonous, volcanic environment into which his film softly whispers. Despite that old corny expression about whispers and wanting to be heard, this is one time when it would have been better to be bold. Its tag line, "Is this the face of a terrorist?," sadly points to the film's greatest weakness - for all its gestures towards profundity, it's too focused on the "face" and not the heart and soul. Miral is too cute for its own good.
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8/10
Another good film from Julian Schnabel
mrpeteimdb10 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
With a few caveats "Miral" is a rather good movie. It shows things from the Palestinian perspective and does leave out an important point or two ... but again in general it's pretty good cinematic experience.

The development of a young lady named Miral is the main subject here. The film is based on an autobiographical novel by Rula Jebreal. Miral is Palestinian and she attends a school that some might consider a privileged place for a Palestinian. She is very lucky to get the type of education offered at the school. The school is a boarding school and is also an orphanage. It is run by a wonderful lady.

The author, Rula Jebreal, is a journalist. She attended university in Italy and was a journalist there for over decade. After that she worked for a Cairo TV station.

There is quite a bit of "setup" in the film before the main character Miral appears. You just have to wade through it because it's quite necessary to build the foundation before this particular house can be built.

Even though there are multiple issues of importance to women raised by the film I suspect that creative men will be interested in most all of the film. I'm a guy and I liked it.

The main issue in the film is how Miral's attitude towards and approach to the Israeli/Palestinian struggle will develop. It's a complex subject and the film likewise is complex. Overall the film acquits itself quite well is this area.

OK. Let's get to the controversial stuff. The movie portrays the situation from the Palestinian perspective. Once or twice it leaves out an important point and that omission gives an "advantage" of the Palestinian side of the "argument." However in another case it really should provide a tiny bit more historical info to make the portrayal of the circumstances surrounding the founding of the school/orphanage more credible. Let's tackle that bit first.

The school/orphanage is founded because a wonderful lady finds a group of orphans in the street who say their parents were all killed without reason. The scene just didn't seem believable to me ... until I looked up the Deir Yassin massacre. It really happened and those kids are (part of) the subject matter of this film. Again, it was called the Deir Yassin massacre. Look that one up (try haaretz.com). The film should have mentioned that incident by name in a later scene for increased credibility.

OK. Now the flip side of the coin. The school/orphanage grows greatly because of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War that started the day after Israel declared its independence and sovereignty. Nowhere is it mentioned in the film that in that war the Arab nations were the first to move across national boundaries ("they started it"). More balance is needed on this point.

Another point omitted in the film occurs in an important scene where the Israeli army is tearing down a Palestinian house. I could be wrong about this, but they typically do this when someone has committed a really bad terrorist act. That persons house (or their parents house) is then destroyed. When the house is torn down in the movie no context/reason is given whatsoever. For a film that is trying to balance things this a noticeable omission.

One high circulation newspaper said that the film was a "slanderous and shameful piece of propaganda." That's just totally wrong. To me it is sensitive and complex. Another newspaper review said the movie had a "disdain for details." On the contrary, it gets the details right with the caveats noted above. The Guardian said "Freida Pinto looks uneasy and miscast as Miral herself." Ms. Pinto's acting is quite good. The only problem there is that her skin tone is a 1/2 shade to dark. I REALLY doubt that most folks with white skin will notice that "problem." The Village Voice said it was "at-odds-with-itself" and was a "partisan work." The only sense that the film is "at-odds-with-itself" is that the title character's response to the Israeli/Palestinian struggle changes over time. The work is told from the Palestinian point of view ... that makes it partisan? Give me a break! What crap! On the other hand the use of plaintive violin music is a bit overdone in the film.

Let's get real here. It distinctly appears that the reason that people might typically review this film poorly is that they don't like that a story is being told from the Palestinian point of view.

I understand that this is an incredibly tough problem, but to quote Rodney King "Can't we all get along?" Unfortunately the situation seems quite insoluble.
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9/10
A compelling insight into a war without end
perkypops24 December 2011
I can understand the resistance to this film but it is undeserved. I watched it with an open mind often transposing the nationality of the many "soldiers" and "activists" in the plot and getting the same impression as the film first hinted to me that there is so little difference between races and cultures for all our attempts to say otherwise. This film is rich in its character building, sensitive to the issues involved, and optimistic in its final passages.

It is lovingly told from a character perspective with only slight weaknesses in acting performances throughout. Hiam Abbass (as Hind), Ruba Blal (as Fatima), and Freida Pinto (as Miral) are superb as women who understand just what a political game being termed a terrorist is. The most riveting scene for me is where Miral learns that love and hate have the same roots and is beautifully played out.

I really do not want to engage in the politics of the film for it is rare to see a film that understates the causes of unrest and conflict and dares to focus on the extreme hardship produced, be it in Palestine in the late twentieth century or much earlier anywhere in Europe.

I don't expect the game to gain popularity points on this website (no fault of IMDb) which is a shame because it stands out as a work of merit. I recommend it wholeheartedly and, were it not for a couple of acting blips, give it a maximum.

It is a film that makes you think - and feel.
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10/10
An Unknown Masterpiece
TheOneThatYouWanted29 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
How sad is it that this masterpiece piece of a movie is relatively hidden from the public for purely political reasons? The word is out about what is really happening in Israel and the nearly 70 years of Hell the Palestinian have had to endure. This film does the job of showing the psychological aspects of living in the apartheid war crime capital of the world. And this film teaches you a few things. This film focuses on heroic and strong women having to deal with being born into a tortuous situation, a living Hell on earth. Funny how Israel can not stop stealing land. I literally read an article about the government of Israel green lighting 15 thousand more settlements, I believe that is the third time just this year. And people wonder why Palestinians are so upset. I almost feel sorry for Israel because they will have to answer to a Higher Power for their twisted games. Anyway, I highly recommend this movie because the acting is outstanding and the story is not only true but very inspirational.
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10/10
A moving and well structured film
composertrevor10 September 2015
This is a Must See film. Julian Schnabel's 'Miral' is a moving and well structured film. Following the general structure of Rula Jebreal's book of the same title, we follow a logical journey through a number of lives and events that focus on the founding of the Dar El Tiffel orphanage by the wonderful Hind Husseini, and her mentoring of Miral, the daughter of a local Imam whose wife committed suicide. Set within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both the novel and film offer no solutions, except a belief on both sides that peace can be obtained.

The film, based on Jebreal's own childhood and youth, sing the praises of education as the tool to escape ignorance and lack of opportunity. The orphanage becomes an escape from the harsh realities of the conflict, and offers a haven for the girls it fosters and teaches. The film isn't so much about the two sided conflict as being a story about women and education. Hind Husseini gained much respect in her lifetime, receiving awards, and giving public addresses about education for women.

The Education, Education, Education message is one that has become so important throughout all middle eastern countries, very much resonating with the advocacy work of people like Queen Rania of Jordan, Sheikha Mosa of Qatar and the education initiatives in the UAE. Regional conflict can only be quelled when a nation's people are well educated and informed, and this came through in the words of Hind.

This film is important and highly recommended.
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5/10
Not worth the effort. Sorry.
natashabowiepinky11 October 2013
Can a film be done well in almost all departments, but still be disliked? In short: yes. The beautiful Freida Pinto, of Slumdog Millionaire fame, plays Miral, who gets involved in the campaign for a free Israel in the late 80's. According to the text at the end, she's grown up to be a top international journalist. Good for her. What I do question though, is whether her story was worth committing to celluloid. On this evidence, I would say not.

Pinto doesn't even appear until halfway through... we have to wade through a lot of back story involving miscellaneous characters before we meet our heroine, all grown up. Described as a 'terrorist' on the movie poster, this is a bit misleading... she just hands out some leaflets, holds onto some sensitive books for her rebel boyfriend. Her one brush with the law is quickly dealt with, and the rest of the time she has inconsequential chats with her friends and family. Snore.

When the ending arrived, I couldn't believe it. I'd invested 90+ minutes for... THAT? In the past, I've criticised Hollywood biopics for sometimes play and fast with the truth. If giving us a straight account of someone's life ends up like this, perhaps my mind has been completely changed on the subject... 5/10
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8/10
Increases our understanding of how colonialism and war affect ordinary people
beesusie25 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Ignore some of the terrible reviews this movie has gotten. Watch it and reach your own conclusions.

The "story" presented here presents personal stories of people affected by the creation of Israel in former Palestine, a British colony. This movie is not meant to be history, though facts of history are presented, but based on how the situation has affected people in different parts of society of Palestinians and Israelis.

Although the movie is from a Palestinian perspective, I didn't feel that it was anti-Israeli, but did show how the partisan situation has affected many negatively, but mostly the Palestinians.

I would urge everyone to see this movie with an eye to what happens with both colonialism and war. That some manage to survive does not mean thousands more didn't suffer greatly.

This movie has some flaws, and I'll mention some here so you will not think I could not see them. While much of the cinematography is excellent there are times that I had to turn away because the cinematographer must have used a hand-held camera zoomed in so the picture is blurry. Then he moves the camera from side to side or makes a sweep and it almost gave me motion sickness and distracted from the movie. I have no idea why this was allowed, but if this bothers you, just move on because it doesn't last. Sometimes the story line seems truncated. First Miral's mother is a belly dancer then she is married to a moderate, kind, Muslim leader, not an oppositionist. Did I miss something? I think some of the narrative transitions fell on the cutting room floor.

Despite any flaws I really urge you to see the movie. It has very beautiful music, excellent acting and is thought-provoking about the situation with the Palestinians and Israelis. Its partisanship is not strident so you don't feel that it is meant to be any type of manifesto. It does leave us wondering why the Oslo agreements of 1993 were never finally agreed upon, though there are understandable reasons. This question is NOT the point of the movie, however.
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Go to a coffee shop and talk about it...
christine-705-71715318 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I love a movie that does everything right—dialog, cinematography, acting, plot, redeeming value, relevance—and Miral is just that movie.

Miral is a must-see. And for those of you with an aversion to subtitles, there are only a few, so you will be fine. Based on Rula Jebreal's novel about her own life, the movie walks us through the inception of the State of Israel and the ensuing escalation of the Palestinian conflict that followed, all through the eyes of a young girl whose life is shaped by that conflict rather than by her own goals and aspirations.

I have to say something here. If someone's real life is filled with people dying, torture, and deceit, and the person telling the story is always the victim or always did the right thing in a sea of others who didn't, one has to wonder. I just don't believe her when she talks about how she behaved when she was picked up by the army. Sorry. Maybe it's not that important, but when something doesn't pass the smell test, you have to acknowledge it. Her story is a self-serving litany of justifications for her decisions, one of which cost someone their life.

A recurring theme in Miral is displacement and the carnage that results from it. Miral and her mother were displaced, and her Palestinian people were displaced. We all learn from this film that displacement kills hope faster than the Israeli flag was designed after they took the land.

There are many dissonant messages in the film that make it one of the best movies of the year thus far. Perhaps the most important of these is the movie's portrayal of a fabulous girl's school (which is still standing) that educates young female minds from behind a hedge of denial of events outside its walls. It's like The Secret Garden, but somehow that's believable. There can be no hope for peace in the Middle East if oases of normality can't exist amid seas of insanity.

Some will say the story is all about Miral, but I think her father, Jamal, is an equally important character with much more to teach. Jamal is a forgiving man, but Miral mistakes his forgiveness for weakness and denial. She thinks he's hiding behind a God that has forsaken them, but he's not. He is choosing forgiveness and focusing on what he finds important, which is Miral herself. Everyone should have a parent like that. And we should all understand that it's our choice to forgive or fight, and that one must weigh the consequences of each option before making the choice. Alexander Siddig portrays Jamal perfectly, slowly, without much dialog but with ever so much emotion. Why don't we see him more?

The story moves quickly and covers a large stretch of time, but you never feel rushed, or that you missed anything. That's hard to do when your story spans fifty years in two short hours. I never really understood the genesis of Israel, or how it came into being so quickly. It's like Los Angeles, a city that grew too fast to allow for city planning, and they have been struggling with the consequences ever since. No solutions can be implemented when you take land away from entire people to make room for their arch enemies, just band aids.

I know I've said this before about other films, but this is another one of those movies that should be shown in schools, in homes, in the Knesset, and anywhere else where people are sure of their point of view about who is right and wrong in this conflict. I wonder what would happen if it were required viewing for all Palestinians and Israelis.

Julian Schnabel is a wonderful director, so wonderful that no one part of the movie stands out as his. He just wove the tale, brilliantly and sensitively, and a grateful nation or two should thank him. On behalf of mine, thank you. Please go see it. Take someone with you who is sure that Israel is totally right or that Israel is totally wrong, and then go to a coffee shop and talk about it.
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1/10
ahem...
hfkraken5 November 2011
This is this generation's "Jud Süß", hammered together for this side of History. For those of you who understand what that is, you probably feel disgusted at why I gave this thing 1 star. It deserves none but alas, that's the way the scale works around here. I have watched and quite enjoyed "the diving bell and the Butterfly" and found it deep, meaningful, sobering and a well put together effort from a director I had never heard about. It was one of those films that was recommended to me because it had "that guy from 'Munich'"... or so I was told.

But I digress.

This is the kind of thing that can really ruin a movie experience to me. A film that tries so hard to send out a message of a real World conflict, described with such inanity, ineptitude and so completely divorced from the reality it purports to represent... reminds me of "Kingdom of Heaven".

If you are looking for an honest look at the Middle Eastern conflict, please look elsewhere. This film will do you a disservice. And the irony that it came out on the very same day that that the Fogel family "made" (local) headlines just adds insult to injury! Pun intended!
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5/10
The red flower
jotix10010 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Julian Schnabel's "Miral" was shown recently on cable. Not having seen it before, we decided to take a chance. The director whose previous work showed a rare quality in telling a story, working on Rula Jebreal's novel and with a screenplay by the author, takes a look at recent history, analyzing it from the less popular side of the Palestinians, who have lived in conflict after the creation of the state of Israel in 1947.

The story deals with a kind hearted lady, Hind Husseini, who is surprised to find a large amount of orphans roaming the streets. She takes the children into her home, and later creating a school in which to educate and house the young innocent victims. Hind's life was given to help the unfortunate children that came into her school and her life.

Miral, a young woman, was the product of the system Ms. Husseini created. Unfortunately, she gets to witness, first hand, the way her fellow Palestinians were being treated by the Israelis. In fact, Miral falls in disgrace when the man she falls in love with, forces her to carry a device which fortunately does not explode. Her life changes instantly as she has to experience the way she is treated and abused by the Israelis.

Mr. Schnabel's sympathies are with the Palestinians, something that he has not been able to avoid in the way he presents the material. The many years of fighting between Israel and its neighbor has produced wounds that are hard to heal. The film ends with the Oslo Peace Accords of 1993 in which some hope for peace seemed possible, something that in real life never happened.

The wonderful actress Hiam Abass is seen as Hind, although she is only seen briefly as she goes from a young woman to her death. Freida Pinto, the Indian actress does what she can with a role that should have been played by a young Palestinian actress. There are familiar faces among the cast. Vanessa Redgrave and William Dafoe are seen in minor roles.
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