THE TALE OF THE LOST THREE JEWELS
DIRECTOR: MICHEL KHLEIFI
PALESTINE 1994
CINEMATOGRAPHY: RAYMOND FROMONT
MUSIC: JEAN-MARIE SENIA
CAST: Mohammed Nahnal, Raida Adno, Hana'Ne'meh, Makram Khouri, Mohammed Sheikh, Ghassan Abu Libda, Amin Halabi, Muhammad Bakri, Um Fayez, Ahmad Abu Sal'um, Khalifa Natour, Dirar Suleiman
SUPER FEATURES: The children are superb.... excellent film.


I keep telling some people at the Northwest Film Center, that the real gems are in the films that will not be seen, or heard from again, in these festivals. And this film is one of those. It's just a shame that these films will never get a chance with an Oscar nomination, so people can really get the fell of the true horror and shit that these children have to live with all their lives, and never, ever seemingly, get a chance to live the life a child can, and should.

But in America, we don't care more often than not. We have become so materialized that we don't know what it is that made us alive when we were children, and what may, turn out to be one of the best answers and hopes for stopping a meaningless and senseless war.

The Tale of The Three Lost Jewels, is a magnificent story, that pretty much tells us, very easily, who the real losers in these conflicts are.. the family units, and the children, who end up being brought up in a mold of hate and lack of understanding for anything except one's own beliefs. And this insidious life style is destroying the beauty that the children offer, and that this film, so lovingly captures.

It is the story of three children, basically, and how they are all connected. Yusef has a school friend Suad, who is of better parents and stock, but goes to a public school. And one day, while doing his duty of delivering food to his group of fighters which includes an older brother, he meets a girl that he has come to like a lot. Aida. And as they come together we can feel the doomed edges that this story has, and we immediately catch the whiffs of the hatred. She is a descendant of gypsies, another culture that has been decimated in that area. And even though all three of them become good friends, they are all different and terribly apart, because in many ways, they are fighting each other as adults out in the streets. But, at least, in this film, even the parents are tolerant, and realize that they have been destroyed and are basically defeated, and they seem to get along, which places the war in other ideal compounds.

As is the case with the gypsy mold, Aida tells nature stories that have connections with many spirits and what not, and in the telling of a story, she is rebuffed by Yusef, who says that she is wrong. He talks to the Jinn also, and they do not do what she says. And the friendship starts up at this point. She has found someone that she can talk to and play with who understands what she sees. She promises to marry him if he finds the 3 lost jewels in a special necklace. And they set about getting the necklace from the ageing grandmother. The story that Aida knows, however, regarding the missing three jewels, is that they were lost in South America. And Yusef, decides that he has to leave to go find these jewels. And he nearly succeeds were it not for a lucky curfew that prevents more crates of oranges to be shipped out from Suad's father's farm.

And the story now gets serious, as the families can not find Yusef. Aida's family sits down with her and Suad and explain to her that the grand-mama had embellished her story for the children. But Aida had taken it literally, as it made sense in her own world. Yusef wants to marry her and will do what he has to, to find the jewels.

Yusef eventually gets out of the crate that was going to take him to another country, and accidentally meets a group of rebels that are out looking for renegade fighters ( whatever, it doesn't matter -- they all seem senseless and stupid at this point ), one of which is trigger happy and shoots. Yusef does what he has been taught. Lie down and play dead. The fighters run away, because they know that retaliation when it comes to children can get ugly.

And then the film just flies off into the never, never land of the children's existence. Yusef has found the three jewels and has replaced them in the necklace. But the story has changed. They were there before, but could only be seen by the pure eyes of those who believed, and lived it. And all of a sudden, we are just sick to our stomachs, because this boy could be dead ( the film suggests it but doesn't push it ), and this whole thing, a child's innocence and love, is wasted to the winds in the midst of a fucking war that means even less.

A truly amazing film, it is a wonder that it even got done, it really should be an exercise that everyone in the region alike, should see. It really shows what has hurt these people so badly. The family structure is totally gone, even the child's and work is coming apart. The children are losing the very precious gems that help them grow in the first place.

Few films can do this so well, and this director excels under the roughest of circumstances, to get this kind of film done. Unbelievable, is all one can really say, and this film should be seen. There are not too many like it at all....

4.5 GIBLOONS

 

   

      

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