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A1 Review By Director - Critic Ali Safar

A1, a film by Muhammad Ali Adeeb:

"Engraving By Picture On Human Ego"

 

The theme approached by Muhammad Ali Adeeb's film, A1, does not seem strange or unique in the general context of the Syrian current production of drama. The actual general lines deal with many available obsessions such as love and death, as well as some less avA1lable themes such as body and religion (creation)!

We speak about the main theme of the film, but in the background of this speech, we believe that A1 is really unique and strange, with no greed or flattery in the context of making the film says what it has not said. We start from this point to indicate to the film entire silence in terms of speech, the available speech that is formulated in a defined alphabet.

 

It assumes the context of its story through narration as the movement of human activity in its subjective and objective dimensions. First, through the fact that utterance in this narration is built by the sign or indication that substitutes the uttered things, basically, by visuals, and builds upon that the various semantic and compositional levels! If this aspect requires a kind of symbolical reading of the film as it is an empire of local traditional signs, the most comprehensive reading, in our opinion, should start from the consistency of this empire's structure with two lines: the discourse, as a complicated structure in terms of construction, and narration that introduces to us its focuses/characters. At the same time, it introduces them as subjective structures that deserve making an adventure to read them particularly that economy of connotation is an approach that governed most phases of the film. Perhaps, all the film viewers have noticed that its general lines have not run into a disorder that is always possible when approaching the environment in a dramatic context.

 

We believe that the film has avoided running into such pitfall, into which Syrian drama runs always when making surroundings milieu its subject, by non-dependency on speech or talking as a means to send its discourse. The speech was limited to four lines of poetry written by the director himself in English, and set at the beginning of the film.

These poetry lines, uttered in English, are not connected to the film, its events or even its environmental situation but by the fact that they are written by the director himself. Therefore, their existence as signs has not and will not affect the Syrian viewer, who will find himself suddenly alone and naked of everything save his eyes and ears with a drama that uses music in its extreme expressional, escalatory and dissociative of human feelings, first, and uses the movement that is structured according to the context of the story: the story of Ahmad, son of the Herbalist (Spice Dealer), and his discoveries of the external environment, as well as his approach to the internal world and dealing with it from the most tender-hearted angles/paternal and maternal feelings, second. Between these two levels, we glimpse a transparent line around which different orders revolve; it is love associated with desire at a time and with inability at other times.

 

The film, according to the strange reality it deals with (the Damascene/Syrian reality in the furthest interpretive conception), does not limit its ambition to introducing exotic/environmental state and events. Rather, it manages from the beginning to approach this ambition from the first formal objects such as the Damascene house, the marketplace and the Herbalist’s (Spice Dealer's) shop, as places, and the Magus, the sellers, the Spice Dealer, bathhouse realm, and the fortune teller/witch, as characters.

All that, as signs, promotes the native ceremony - climate state, but it does not take the work to the position of sending vision or discourse. As a film, it exercises the biggest process of connotations construction known to the Syrian drama as a coherent visual state far from any advertisements, programmes or videos (where we are still lagging behind until now, in spite of what is said about the Syrian drama progress as a visual state). In spite of its silence, the film gives the eye an opportunity to meditate alone.

In spite of all of that, it practices the different saying. The saying that is uttered by the picture when its idiotic beauties are broken, when beauty is broken. We mean here, the harsh aggressive action practiced by the picture when it moves through its connotations from aesthetical real relation to the phase of the very ugly reality that is naked with no cover but the belief that there is hope of change. The belief that eyes say when uttering alone while observing the other in his defeat and joy and in the nothing that surrounds him.

What silence (broken by murmuring of names and resonance of coins in colloquial Arabic and English) leads to is really this, but it goes beyond in interpretation; you keep silent when you find no words to say, but also, in the context of regularity and clash with the reality that needs action and not only words!! Music represents words and composes, as if poetry, extreme limits to run, for a while, with the heart rhythm, and to compose, in other angles, a rhythm that is similar to a knife beats in a living Adamite skin; As if Muhammad Ali Adeeb has made his extreme approach compelling through Muhammad Habbash (the music composer) to make it devoted to self-punishment musically!

Against this inner and outer intensification of the subject-object relationship, the film reader/viewer touches the utopian human direction that the director/scriptwriter tries to realize in the context of this struggle that is blasted by inner action. Against the swollen orders as subjective cases, we feel the poetic state of dream that forms the background of the main character (son of the Herbalist (Spice Dealer) in his relationship with the surrounding worlds. Perhaps the scene of that girl who held flowers or herbs and ran in a wilderness illustrates the poetic and dreamful state that the director wanted as a suitable background of the action context without falling into preaching or uselessness.

 

It was difficult for viewers to capture all rows in A1, not because it was built on disorder, but because it was deeply structured, i.e. it used a concentrated form of narration, where the scenery formation are cut in a way giving the impression that connotations are not completed but where the scene ends with no completion of narrative details.

 

Wherever the viewer sees, he will, no doubt, notice that the whole story is unfinished exactly the same like any scene that leads to what interrupts it. This recall leads to a different scene that may be in contradiction with the first one, but completes it in the general narrative context. This construction served in making human activities conflicting in their subjective structures (the case of Najwa, the destitute wife, with her husband in the space of one house), but he incorporates them in the context of the discourse that expresses the film orientation, which digs the human ego and its potentials using his tools, not to touch it, but to peel the sediments whose removal is believed to be necessary.

 

Ali Safar

Director - Critic