The Oath (2010)
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Critic Reviews for The Oath
Poitras has opened up a fascinating window into the minds of the people who hate us, apparently not so much for our freedom as for our arrogance, our belief that we are the center of the universe.
The essential information in The Oath could have been boiled down to 30 minutes, but the good parts are indeed good.
The Oath makes spare use of images to convey a great deal. Al-Bahri's smiling child is surrounded by lethal weapons that are little more than toys to him. The color-drained skies of Guantánamo are juxtaposed with the lively Yemeni street scenes.
A documentary that at its start purports to be the tale of two terrorists, the film keeps deepening and widening until it becomes a subtle, stubborn moral drama about users and the used.
Just how deep inside Jandal's world Poitras goes is all the more striking given the inherent cultural barriers and danger she faced as a female filmmaker shooting a former Al Qaeda operative in Yemen.
Audience Reviews for The Oath
9/3/15 Sundance Doc Club A very interesting look into the other side in our war on terror. The film makers were able to give the viewer a detailed look at the lives and thought processes of Arab jihadist. Informative and thought provoking.
While definitely a very good and thought provoking documentary, I don't think it's ever great. It definitely does a great job at making Abu Jandal, bodyguard of Bin Laden, into a complex individual with complex emotions. I don't want to say they humanize him or make you empathize with his past, but the movie doesn't make him into a villain either. They present his story without taking sides or being preachy. I think the real meat of the story comes with Salim's trial and how he's in the situation that he is in (with the trial, despite having won a historic trial against the Supreme Court and Congress creating a new law after this case to SPECIFICALLY create new fresh charges against him). That's definitely the most striking thing about the movie, the U.S Congress passing a new law that would make sure this guy has a trial, however fair (or constitutional) or not. It's even more striking that this law was passed for someone who was just Bin Laden's driver (and not involved in any terrorist activities, allegedly) when there are much bigger fish to fry including Abu Jandal. Again it's really a very good documentary film, but I don't know what it was missing that only made this a really good, and not a great, movie.
2011 Cinema Eye Honors in New York Wednesday night, while Laura Poitras received the Outstanding Achievement in Direction award for her work on "The Oath,"
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