Monday, May 16, 2016

'Theeb' BD: Oscar-Nominated 'Empire of the Sun' in 1916 Arabian Desert

Product Details
The May 17, 2016 Blu-ray release of 2016 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee (and winner of scads o' awards) "Theeb" being just another day at the office for peerless foreign film distributor Film Movement speaks volumes about the awesomeness of that company. It also is a good endorsement for the Movement Film of the Month Club, to which "Theeb" is the latest addition. Using the Blu-ray format to present the breathtaking scenery and spectacular soundtrack shows equally good instincts.

Before beginning an actual discussion of "Theeb," noting that this film also is a "New York Times" Critic's Pick is important regarding understanding the merits of the film.

The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Theeb" provides perfect exposition regarding the concept of the film; it also offers a look at the aforementioned exceptional scenery.


The apt English translation of the name of the titular young Bedouin is "Wolf." We first meet this literal son of a sheikh when he, his older brother Hussein, and their brother are part of a group out in the Arabian desert in 1916 during the Ottoman Empire era.

The amazing parallels between "Theeb" and the 1987 Christian Bale/John Malkovich drama "Empire of the Sun" begin with Theeb and Hussein playing near an oasis and moving onto still low-pressure target shooting practice.

The mood remains light when our boys join their group at their campsite. The intrusion of the war that soon follows has ample tension but is less dramatic and initially less violent than the almost literal rude awakening that British boy Jim experiences during his WWII-era childhood in Asia.

Like Jim, the foolishness of Theeb leads to his embarking on a perilous journey. In the case of the latter, it involves stowing away on an expedition through an area that is prone to raider attacks.

Writer/director Naji Abu Nowar shows an awareness of "Star Trek" lore regarding the aftermath of Theeb (like Jim) becoming a guest of his enemy. Theeb and his adversary find themselves in a situation that requires cooperation that leads to further understanding of the experiences that are behind their current situation.

The surprise (but realistic) ending likely is a reason for Movement adding "Theeb" to its catalog. Although shocking, this conclusion arguably is perfect. (Viewers are strongly encouraged to read the liner notes for more insight regarding the thoughts of Movement and Nowar.)

The Bonus Short film that Movement (as it does with every Club selection) pairs with "Theeb" is a  Lebanese Cannes winning animated movie that depicts the inner thoughts of a boy living a challenging existence in post-war Beirut. The creatively  interspersed live-action footage and awesomely surreal fantasies of the teen illustrate the reason for the award.

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