Addressing topics that are not well known, even under the pretext of socio-scientific curiosity, is a great danger. The other, the different, the strange, do not always need representatives beyond their own nature, and if this occurs for some reason, what is observed is arbitrariness, truculence and violation of the fundamental rights of any individual, whether or not under the same flag as the dominant side. Wars have resisted time and reason, provided with the most absurd arguments, a reality that leads the most judicious to conclude that, much more than the materialization of clashing ideologies, wars are opportunities for business, for self-affirmation before the international community, for an affront to the established — which includes peace, of course, but spills over into politics, geopolitics and the economy, as has already been said — and even a mere exercise of unlimited human stupidity, which gives all that barbarism an aura of innocent play. War is fun, someone once claimed. The consequences of the joke are what make up the hecatomb itself.
“Beirut” (2018), Brad Anderson’s fast-paced thriller, stands out for drawing attention to the misunderstanding – which is perpetuated in history – between the United States and the Middle East. The capital of Lebanon in 1972 hardly resembles the cosmopolitan city of today, it should be noted, but the director manages to make the audience go back to that time, thanks to the good work of art direction, and see possible similarities between what it took place in the heart of the country, one of the most important links between Muslim Asia and the West, perhaps only less prestigious than Turkey. Anderson opens his film by showing Jon Hamm’s American diplomat Mason Skiles, telling him what he thinks of Beirut, for him a “non-owner boarding house”. The backdrop of criticism of the conduct of American international politics from, again, half a century ago is acquiring more and more fiber, feeding the viewer the feeling that Tony Gilroy’s script is dedicated to a coldly studied provocation. It is not immediately evident whether one wants to corroborate the disregard for the needs of the Lebanese population — and by extension the peoples of all the nations of the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, of course — or if Gilroy’s text is intended for a far-fetched self-irony. simple. If this is the case, basic questions such as the position of the United States in the face of the cultural resistance of the Lebanese in 1972 are overlooked.
A decade later, in 1982, at the height of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) — aggravated by changes in the country’s demographic composition, directly related to the greater inflow of Palestinian Muslim refugees since 1948; the consequent attacks by Muslims against Maronite Christians; and the interference of Syria, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO — Skiles, considered the only one capable of effectively collaborating in the dissolution of hostilities, is forced to deal with the conflicts with the Lebanese woman Nadia, lived in by Leïla Bekhti, and the affection the two developed for Karim, the organ of war played by Yoav Sadian.
It is precisely in the figure of the boy that all his skepticism will be deposited, what concerns humanity and what particularly touches him: Karim, once a diligent pupil of his, is now an easy target for terrorism, like his older brother , who had organized the Black September attack, a dissident of the PLO, to eleven Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. The eleven members of Israel’s Olympic delegation, plus a German police officer, were killed. His fears about Sadian’s character are confirmed: Karim, now in the role of Idir Chender, had kidnapped his friend Cal, from Mark Pellegrino, also a member of the US diplomatic corps in Lebanon. Doubtful types like Donald, Dean Norris’ character; Gary, role of Shea Whigham; and Frank, played by Larry Pine, make any chance of concertation even more remote; however, the appearance of Rosamund Pike’s CIA agent Sandy Crowder—also cunning, but less devious—points to a more pragmatic end to Skiles’ war and agony.
Perhaps a response to “Munich” (2005), Steven Spielberg’s crime epic, “Beirut” also resembles contemporary productions not necessarily symbolic for the history of humanity, but which denote the same dismantling of the status quo through organized violence, example of the documentary “Gladbeck’s Hostages” (2022), directed by Volker Heise. It is curious to observe that, to a greater or lesser extent, in one way or another, Germany was involved in events of this nature; in the case of Beirut, and, once again, of the entire subcontinent on which it is situated, time is indeed a concept as subjective as it is pathetically morbid in which the eternal past leaps to the eye.
Direction: Brad Anderson