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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=Date Wine. Sorry for the trouble.

Date Wine

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I watched Araq el-Balah ("Date Wine") at the Bahrain Cinema Club last night, and it was easily the finest Arabic movie I've seen. Earlier this year I watched Al-Saher ("The Magician"), also by Redwan el-Kashef, and I was not very impressed so I was not expecting much from Arak el-Balah. I came away very surprised. The synopsis from IMDb says:

This film is an exploration of what happens to places in general, and people in particular, once the menfolk abandon an Egyptian village to investigate the greener-grass on the proverbial 'other side'. The womenfolk, those too old and those too young are left behind... and as the years pass, only letters return, telling tales of loneliness and hard-times. A young man, Ahmed, grows-up under these surroundings and has to deal with being the de-facto man-in-charge; when several of the migrant workers return one day, everyone has to come to terms with things being forever changed.

Central to the plot is Ahmed's desire to climb "Al-Alia", the tallest palm tree in the village, so as to make wine from its dates which have magical properties. The length of the film is filled with this type of sharp and playful mythical symbolism. The characters are also developed with great sensitivity, each of them playing their seterotypical village role (or not). I even enjoyed the soundtrack of this movie, which is rare for me. So do watch this if you can get your hands on a copy of this fine piece of Arab cinema.

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3 Responses to 'Date Wine'

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Oh my God, I used to go to the films at the Bahrain Cinema Club in Juffair. That played such amazing films.

- Sparkle in my eyes    

Blogger Natasha says:

Dear Chanad,
I don'think Arak translates to wine, Arak is an anise flavoured liquor. So my translation would be Date-flavoured Anise;-)    

Blogger Chanad says:

Sparkle: Yes! Thank god for the Cinema Club, since it's the only place on the island where you can watch good (i.e. non-Hollywood) films.

Natasha: Thanks for the clarification. I went along with the translation of "wine" since that is how the US distributors translated it. But yes, arak is an alocholic drink made from anise that your Lebanese friends undoubtedly rave about :) Thanks Natasha!    

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