Posted by: Dawud Israel | May 13, 2010

4 Films Every Muslim Should Watch and Why

Now, this might seem like an ironic post after the previous one, but there is some real benefit in these films, and I know most Muslims watch films or at least read up on them…

You can search out these films on your own. They are definitely worth watching and, if you aren’t into films too much, you can search around and read up on their analysis online. There is plenty written about these films and they will leave you mulling them over for quite some time.

1) Le Grande Illusion

This old film provides a great glimpse on a by-gone era. You get a real sense of chivalry, and camaraderie. In it you see the old class divides, and how upper-class aristocracy were put in the same boat as lower class in the war effort, and how the dynamics worked out. These were the last days of aristocracy in Europe, so you understand the refinement these people had- which echoes much with the hey-day of Muslim piety, honor and age-old nobility. Compare this film to how Muslims and the USA are fighting wars today- grizzly torture and the use of overseas drones.

Things to note: How these people don’t take things personally, the interplay between nature vs. convention, and how the film plays out very much like a social experiment, they are fighting an “impersonal” war,where the mentality is “just because we’re at war doesn’t mean we can’t be courteous.”  Even as prisoners of war, they behave as if they are on a camping trip or as tourists, and are treated cordially like dinner guests:

“Sorry, I can’t give you a private room.”

“I wouldn’t have accepted it anyways.”

2) Citizen Kane

About a man who is after the world. Because of the void in his childhood Kane fills his life up with worldly possessions. This film is said to be the greatest film ever made, so it is a delight to watch. But there is also a tragedy in his endless pursuit and the sadness that overwhelms his life. And precisely because he is so wealthy, everyone is upset with him because they are indebted to him, “everyone owes him everything,” as if he were some insatiable Pharaoh.

3) Decalogue (Dekalog)

10 episodes based on the Ten commandments. But there is a twist which becomes a commentary on the Commandments themselves: it is hard to tell which Commandment is being discussed. Is it theft? Or is this episode about adultery? Or perhaps about honoring parents? (Disclaimer: there is some adult content in this)

Things to note: How does the ambiguity of the Commandments encompass and connect sins together and good action together? How do these 10 Commandments apply in our time on a day to day level? The reality of the 1o Commandments is important because there are thousands of federal laws that try to perform the same rules of these 10 Commandments.

4) Equilibrium

A world has been created that is free of conflict, through the use of chemicals to eliminate all feeling. When the elite guards who are in charge of destroying the “emotional” contraband (novels, art, etc.) start indulging, things begin to change.

Things to note: Though the main appeal in this film was the gun-slinging pistol martial arts, I thought the storyline was an interesting commentary. In a futuristic world where people are purged of emotion and ruled by “clerics” there is something eerily familiar as to how Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia are structured. Art and literature are repressed and so is the characteristic emotion, and what makes us human is destroyed. They lead a dead life, empty and hollow, not worthy of empathizing with or even worth living. It echoes heavily with the tyranny of modern Muslim leaders and also the sort of “formalistic” life Muslims are encouraged to lead as supposedly “pious,” empty of imagination, creativity and emotion- a far cry from the exploratory minds of past Muslim civilisations.

camaraderie //


  1. If “Equilibrium” is the same movie I think it is, isn’t is largely based on Ray Bradbury’s book “Farenheit 451”?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: