Blood And Tears
R1 - America - ThinkFilm
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and Stevie McCleary (9th October 2007).
The Film

I know very little about the Middle East Conflict. I'm not a deeply political person. That left me pretty skeptical that the documentary "Blood and Tears: The Arab-Israeli Conflict" running just under 80 minutes could enlighten me to the entire history of the Arab/Israeli issues. But in the end that is what it does, albeit in a quiet and unassuming manner. You won't have any cause to be offended by it, you won't learn anything surprising (I may not have known much before but it all seemed like common knowledge to the people watching with me) and it may come across like the type of documentary you'd be forced to watch in High School. Actually, this would be a good choice for a Social-Studies/History class, as it does cover all the main points of reference over the long history of the area. From it's creation to the present day, we listen as researchers, journalists, and people on the frontlines give their take on the fight for occupation of Palestine.
We also have regular dictionary definitions of the many terms thrown around (Islamic, Judaism, Zionism) and of the many groups (Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad) that have become a part of their troubled history. These are pretty helpful to a beginner as the many terms can get a bit convoluted.
The DVD cover blurb proclaims the film as being "Un-biased and clear-sighted" (Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal). That much is true. There is not a hint of bias as it pertains to the eye of the film-maker. Good research and interviews have been done by them. It appears this is a case of trying to give a basic overall look at the situation. The only issue with that is a) it doesn't delve too deeply into any one issue, and b) the documentary comes across a little bland, without a strong case to make for its own viewpoint it merely observes the surroundings and takes what it can. Whether or not you approve of this method will be based on how you like your documentaries.
There are still a number of violent images throughout, although they are brief and far from the worst that you could see on the evening news. The brief section on children being trained to be suicide bombers is far more disconcerting to watch than the footage they show of people after bomb attacks.
Should you already know a lot about the history between the cultures then I really don't think this would offer much more than a refresher course, or cliff notes. But it is well put together and very concise with little time wasted. If you're looking to expand your limited knowledge on the Middle East Conflict then this would definitely be a good place to start. It covers Yasser Arafat, the many splinter terrorist groups, the constant struggle for peace, and the human side of the tragedy. Of course most of these only get a few minutes spent on them, due to how much there is to cover. But it's a good start and might fill in a lot of the blanks when it comes to trying to understand another countries politics and troubles.

Video

Presented in a widescreen ratio of 1.78:1 this anamorphic transfer isn't the best, but we are dealing with a documentary that uses several different sources for material, video, digital, archival footage it's all mixed in and the results are just as mixed. The image is okay but has some compression artefacts and detail does lack at times. Overall the transfer is a bit on the flat side with colors appearing natural but never vivid.

Audio

A single English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is included and being a documentary the focus is on dialogue with occasional music cues used which come out well. The dialogue is generally clear for newly taped interviews some heavy accents are hard to make out and forced subtitles in English are included for those scenes. Some archival footage has some terribly transferred audio but that has more to do with the poor source rather than the DVD audio mix.

Extras

First up we've got a series of bonus interviews, these can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' function and include:
- "Dr. Ziad Abu Amr, Gaza Legislator" runs for 1 minute 25 seconds and he comments on Hamas being a political movement and explains why they are engaging in violence.
- "Dr. Akbar Ahmed, Scholar Of Islam American University" runs for 1 minute 5 seconds, here the doctor comments on looking at history differently and the interpretation and misconceptions of Islam in the West.
- "Alan Dershowitz, Attorney And Civil Rights Advocate" runs for 3 minutes 24 seconds, he comments on the refugee problem, the WWII stance of the Palestinians as well as legal land status and the Israeli supreme court.
- "Ambassador Dore Gold, Advisor To The Israeli Prime Minister" runs for 2 minutes 49 seconds and the Ambassador comments on UN resolution 242 and the relationship Jewish people have with the city of Jerusalem.
- "Dr. Bernard Lewis, Scholar Of Islam Princeton University" which runs for 3 minutes. The doctor comments on commonalities between Christianity and Islam.
- "Ziad Abu Ziad, Palestinian Legislator" runs for 3 minutes 1 seconds, he comments on being under occupation and the continuing Palestinian National struggle.

Also included is the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 22 seconds.

Rounding out the extras are some bonus trailers for:
- "The Trials of Darryl Hunt" (2:24)
- "The Protocols of Zion" (1:47)
- "Fateless" (1:48)
- "The Big Question" (1:38)

Overall

The Film: B Video: B Audio: B Extras: B- Overall: B

 


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