MIRAL is a cross cultural, inter-generational film about preparing people for Peace; particularly those who have been oppressed by war. Peace in the world of bioethics is a “good,” which can only be held by humanity as a whole -- not the individual. It is important to understand that Peace is likely to be found in a collective unconscious which transcends our divisions. Peace exist in the territory that connects us, not that which separates us.
Miral, a seventeen year old girl derives from the characters of three other women in the film. These women are reminiscent of universal stories from the era before God was considered male. Universal stories resonate within the human core and contain archetypes. Archetypes are imprints that exist in our psyches. Those of us who work with dying people encourage personal narratives; how many times we hear King Lear and his daughters! Archetypes are a way in which human beings make sense of complex experiences. Artists tend to express these core experiences in ways that translate across culture. The term archetypes comes from the Greek word archetypos, meaning "first of its kind." Archetypes derive from icons. Icons are Gods and their doppelganger Monsters.
When God was a woman, she had three parts: Creation, Love, and Destruction. Nadia is Miral's mother. Nadia was a victim of sexual violence, which resulted in the creation of Miral. Nadia's indomitable spirit of resistance was manifested by her gnawing off parts of herself to escape the trap in which she was caught; until predictably there was nothing left. Hind el Husseni as a young Palestinian woman, turned a corner in the blue dawn light of Jerusalem to find 55 children hungry and displaced by the Deir Yassin massacre. This massacre destroyed an Arab- Palestinian village during the civil war that just preceded the end of British rule of Palestine & Israel in 1948. Hind's first statement to the children in the school she founded is always, "I love you." Not unlike Maria Montessori Hind sets about the task of educating children for Peace. Fatima, a nurse is fired for freeing patients who would be taken as prisoners of war. This injustice radicalizes Fatima to extremism. Fatima meets Nadia in prison while serving 3 life sentences for a bomb that did not go off. Fatima's brother, who works at the home for children with Hind, cares for Nadia at his sister’s request. He then marries Nadia, raising her baby, Miral, as his own and educating her at Hind's school. Nadia, Hind, and Fatima contribute parts of Miral, "a common red flower that grows by the side of the road.” Hence creation, love and destruction bring the roots of Peace.
MIRAL is a good film for those interested in bioethical issues because it deals with ethical conflict at global, historical and personal levels. In Fatima, it has a direct reference to ethical conflict in a health care provider. It demands a review of the Declaration of Human Rights which is an important part of the origin of the field of modern bioethics. Miral's ethical conflict is truly tripartite between, beneficence (what knowledge brings and she has been impeccably educated); autonomy (respect for the right to act in her own self-interest) manifested by her love for Hani who at the time is embracing acts of sabotage which risk life; and justice (equipoise in distribution of risk and burdens) for a people displaced for centuries (Jewish people) and a people being refugeed to accommodate them (Palestinians).
Julian Schnabel is a Jewish American painter and clearly consummate film director. He is the son of a 1948 Hadassah president and so is hardwired to attempt to do good against the odds. He and Palestinian writer, Rula Jebreal, bring her semi-autobiographical novel to the screen. The film's collaborative process reflects the struggle and goals about which it speaks. In this film steeped in war, Schnabel's apt creative capacity shows no graphic violence. A bulldozer wrecking a Palestinian home rips tears from us as we add our reactions to the shots of the impotent members of the refugee camp. Our emotional temperature is changed with the use of film craft: shifting color, saturation, grain and focus. The films words are spare, visuals are modern, and the music decisive. An homage to EXODUS (Preminger, 1960) in handling of geography and innovation of storytelling, Mr. Schnabel and film family have created a film both epic and specifically intimate. We identify with Miral's adolescent evolution to Peace agency and more importantly, we want to be her.
MIRAL. 35 mm. Directed by Julian Schnabel. Venice/France/USA. 2010. The Weinstein Company. (112 min)
For more Film / Bioethics Literacy on this site see: "Lighten Up" slides, 0.045, 0.046 (How film changes culture), .053 (Read All Tracts), 0.057 (lighting what is it saying).
also cf. LA MISSION: Prototype for the Peace Genre on this site May 2010