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Sacrifices

A cornucopia of allegorical imagery and theatrical acting, Oussama Mohammad's sophomore feature, "Sacrifices," will remain a coded message to all but the faithful. Pure festival and Euro pubcaster fare, where pic's ethnic, political and cultural subtleties will doubtless find admirers.

A cornucopia of allegorical imagery and theatrical acting, Oussama Mohammad’s sophomore feature, “Sacrifices,” will remain a coded message to all but the faithful. Richly lensed and played, this ornate family-based saga is pure festival and Euro pubcaster fare, where pic’s ethnic, political and cultural subtleties will doubtless find admirers. It’s only Mohammad’s second feature in 14 years, following “The Stars of the Day.”

A giant tree stresses the eternal nature of the subjects under discussion: life, death, love and other basics. Nearby, an extended Syrian family lives in a capacious mud-walled house, into which, after a long, confusing opening, are born three sons. The father of one goes off “to the front line” to fight “injustice” (only later specified as the Israeli army), and the three develop different characteristics, symbolizing restraint, love and tyranny. Beautifully filmed in the verdant hills of northern Syria, pic is strongly cast at all levels. Though it ends with an anti-Israeli message (presumably referring to the occupation of the Golan Heights), there’s also a strong warning that the Arab world should show more unity and commitment. Original title literally means “The Chest of Life.”

Sacrifices

Un Certain Regard/Syria-France

  • Production: A National Film Organization (Syria)/AMIP (France) production, with participation of Arte France, French Ministry of Culture & Communication. (International sales: AMIP, Paris.) Produced by Muhammad al-Ahmad, Xavier Carniaux, Elisabeth Marliangeas. Directed, written by Oussama Mohammad. Artistic collaborator, Hala Alabdalla Yakoub.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Elso Roque; editor, Martine Barraque; music, Marcel Khalife; production designer, Ahmad Moualla; art director, Ahmad Moualla; costumes, Hala Mohammad. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 21, 2002. Original Arabic title: Sunduq al-dunya. Running time: 112 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Rafiq Sbeil, Maha al-Saleh, Nihal al-Khatib, Amal Omrane, Caresse Bachar, Hala Omran, Bassam Koussa, Faress Houlou, Zouheir Abdel-Karim, Ali Mohammad, Mirna Ghannam, Moustafa Alsoubh, Mohammad Hamad, Elyasse Ghannam.
  • Music By: