Movie Review – Theeb (2014)
This Jordanian film focuses on the Ottoman Empire during World War I. An English officer comes to a peaceful settlement, wanting a guide to a strategic location on the newly built Ottoman railway. Theeb’s brother volunteers to lead him, following customs of hospitality to guests. Young Theeb secretly follows them, and eventually joins them. It’s too late to turn back, so they must include him in the journey forward. However, when they are beset by raiders on the dangerous path, Theeb must find a way to survive in a frightening desert wilderness.
This film was a fascinating, and ultimately successful drama/adventure. The combination of immediate plot combined with a broader commentary on the history and development of this land during the early 1900s was well put together. The idea that the coming railway and advance of other societies was creating change and impact on the local peoples of the Ottoman Empire was referenced in this thoughtful film.
Director Naji Abu Nowar did a wonderful job bringing to life the Ottoman empire of the early 1900s. The cinematography and shots of the landscape was beautiful and majestic. The soundtrack to go along with this was also fantastic and added a lot of substance to the film.
The story of Theeb, and following him through some difficult and dangerous times, created tension and emotion. Theeb was a character the audience really cared about, and child actor Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat did an excellent job showing curiosity, adventurous spirit, and sadness.
The one downside to the film was that the few main characters of the film were not as well defined and explored as they may have been. If we had more details of the characters thoughts and motivations, it may have added additional depth to the film.
Overall however, this was an enjoyable, thoughtful, and powerful film that told a story from an Arabic point of view. This is always vital when trying to understand events and situations.
Overall: 4 stars out of 5 stars.