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Saturday, May 2, 2015

'God's Slave' DVD: 'Trek' Style Take on Islamic Terrorism

GOD'S SLAVE DVD & Online Streaming

The 2013 Venezuelan political thriller "God's Slave" is the second of three May 5, 2015 Film Movement DVD releases that Unreal TV is reviewing. It is also the May 2015 selection for the uber-awesome Film of the Month Club of that equally great New York-based foreign independent film distributor.

A review of the Australian coming-of-age drama with a touch of "50 Shades of Grey" "My Mistress" recently ran on this site. The French film "The Nun" will round off this series in early May 2015.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Slave" does a good job introducing the main characters and the event around which the story revolves.

"Slaves" uses a series of 1994 Islamic terrorist attacks in Buenos Aires as the basis for inter-connected stories of terrorist-in-waiting Ahmed and veteran Israeli special agent David. An early flashback shows both the political environment in Lebanon in which Ahmed grew up and a related trauma during that period that largely makes him the man that he is in the present period of the film.

Ahmed is living an enviable fabricated life in Venezuela while waiting for "his turn" to serve his cause. That turn comes in the form of an assignment to join a group that operates in Buenos Aires.

For his part, Buenos Aires based David almost obsessively focuses on prior attacks against Jewish people. The impact on him includes the wife with whom strong mutual love still exists wanting to get out of what effectively is a war zone and David becoming upset with what he considers excessive brutality by his colleagues.

The parallel stories provide the audience both perspectives of the underlying violent and seemingly endless conflict and the human elements of folks on both sides of it. Movement eloquently states this by describing "Slave" as portraying "contemporary world issues within a well-told, carefully constructed story, and with interesting, well-rounded characters. It's a bona fide political thriller that entertains on the surface while providing important food for thought."

The overall theme is that, although they commit horrible acts, not every terrorist is a wild-eyed fanatic out for blood and that those who rightfully pursue them can go to far. An illustration of the former is a scene in which Ahmed and the group to which he belongs eating and joking about ordinary subjects like gatherings of young guys across the globe. Two scenes in which Israeli agents use arguably excessive force in the presence of David demonstrates the latter.

A related aspect of this is the terrorist and the Israeli powers-that-be turning on their own based on a perception that allegiance to the party line is faltering.

The action builds to Ahmed facing the ultimate test of his faith regarding a suicide mission and David acting on intelligence related to that attack. The incredible mix of action and several human emotions that climax around that event is a highlight of the film.

In all of this regard, "Slave" reflects "Star Trek" values in that it explores motivations and promotes a peaceful resolution to a conflict regarding which both sides have legitimate beefs that largely relate to an inability to peacefully resolve disputes in that ongoing war. Also, like "Trek,"the lesson is that peace will not come until both sides actively end the cycle of violence.

The related Bonus Short Film, which is a staple of Club selections, "Machsom" from "Slave" director Joel Novoa Schneider explores themes that are similar to those in "Slave." It centers around a young Israeli guard at a West Bank checkpoint whom his fellow guards bully and who must deal with very tense situations each day. An opening fairly explicit (but non-sexual) shower scene that seems more representative of a high school sports team than a group of soldier clearly establishes the ranking of our hero in the pecking order.

An escalation of the already constantly high tensions at the checkpoint results in an incident that is highly traumatic to the guard and everyone else involved. The lessons in this one include that the overall checkpoint system seems unworkable and that Israel is sending a boy (and a girl) to do a man's (and a woman's) job.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Slave" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,