Paradise Now portrays what terrorists have to endure to prepare for a bombing: getting military haircuts, eating a last meal, videotaping their last words, and strapping their bodies with explosives.
The film also presents the terrorists’ emotional anguish brought on in part by lingering doubts about the reward promised to martyrs in the afterlife.
The main characters blame Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria and Shechem, the area’s largest city, for their motivation to carry out the attack.
Daniel Pipes, a commentator on Middle East affairs, called the movie “propagandistic,” saying it “whitewashes Palestinian suicide bombing.”
A film critic for the New York Times said the movie “risks offending viewers in the same way that humanizing Hitler does.”
Though partially funded by the Israeli taxpayer via the government subsidized Israel Film Fund, the movie bears little sympathy for the Israeli victims the characters intend to kill.
A reviewer for Frontpagemag.com said, “Israelis are depersonalized and utterly demonized. For most of the film we see Israelis only as soldiers: ominous, hard-eyed, helmeted, armed or in tanks. The film betrays no understanding that there is more than one side to this tragic story.”
Not all reviewers criticized the film’s one-sidedness. Entertainment Weekly praised the movie for “the dignity bestowed on a pair of Palestinian suicide bombers.”
Hatred of Israel is also a dominant theme in the movie. As the action progresses, one of the characters decides not to carry out the attack. The other character, however, decides he must blow up Jews. His cites the “occupation” and the need to overcome his shame for having a father who was executed by Arabs for cooperating with Israel.
Winning a Golden Globe award puts Paradise Now in an excellent position to win an Oscar for Best Foreign Film when the Academy Awards are given out this March.