THE GREEN PRINCE | MOVIE REVIEW

THE GREEN PRINCE should have been a Jason Bourne movie. The eldest son of one of the founding members of Hamas is turned to become a spy for Israel. This will have it all, espionage on a grand scale, shame and success, betrayal and murder. The scariest part of it all, it is all true. This is a documentary from the Academy Award winning producers of MAN ON WIRE, SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN and ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER. It stars the actual people involved, Mosab Hassan Yousef and Gonen Ben Yitzhak and is being released on a very limited release on December 4th from Madman Films. SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN won the documentary Oscar in 2013, don’t wait until you hear this won another Oscar for the production team and say “I wish I saw that at the cinema.” GET OUT AND SEE IT AFTER DECEMBER 4TH. At the bottom of the article I list the locations screening the movie. THE GREEN PRINCE is rated M and runs for 101mins. Now enjoy Kernel Andrew’s review…….all the best…..JK.

 

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THE GREEN PRINCE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

REVIEW BY ANDREW BRUSENTSEV

THE GREEN PRINCE is a documentary written and directed by Nadav Schirman who has a real habit of producing documentaries regarding the Israeli-Palestine conflict which balance the tense geopolitical situation involved with a deeply intimate and personal story. His 2007 documentary THE CHAMPAGNE SPY on the Mossad did this very well. I believe he has improved with this excellent commentary on a very thorny subject.

THE GREEN PRINCE looks at the Israeli – Palestinian conflict through the personal story of Mosab Hassan Yousef (who portrays himself). The movie is based on his explosive and divisive book “Son of Hamas” which shocked the world. He penned this in the United States after fleeing Palestine. The result post-publishing was that his family disowned him plus Hamas and Al Qaeda put a price on his head. The book itself is a very lengthy detailed account of the eldest son of one of Hamas’s founders and his conversion to a Shin Bet spy. Shin Bet is the shadowy Israeli security agency responsible for the internal security of the Israeli state. It is involved in counter terrorism, targeted assassinations of the State’s enemies and depending on what side of the conflict you sit, they are either angels with a shield or devils with machine guns. THE GREEN PRINCE takes its name from the codename that Shin Bet used for Mosab.

 

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THE GREEN PRINCE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF AND GONEN BEN YITZHAK OVER THE INTERROGATION TABLE

 

Now this is not a documentary which paints any side as either heroes or demons but rather Schirman lets his subject tell their story simply and to the camera. The other “narrator” in this documentary is Gonen Ben Yitzhak who was Mosab’s Shin Bet handler. Their relationship is the central theme in this documentary. After decades of work together and after many foiled terrorist plots which Mosab was instrumental in stopping they forged an almost brotherly unbreakable bond. What is fascinating about this documentary is how we are first given a bird’s eye view of the conflict, Hamas and Shin Bet as well as the troubles in the region. As the movie progresses we move more and more away from this towards an intimate portrait of the relationship of super spy and handler. These two lives intertwine in a complicated and compelling fashion. What surprises even the subjects is that their relationship turns from cold indifference, to friendship to real feelings of love for the plight of the other man.

THE GREEN PRINCE is thought-provoking and effective. I found myself questioning my own beliefs on the situation and about the moral choices of the two men involved. The excruciating choices they make still have me thinking and I spent several moments over the past couple of days thinking about whether I would be able to make those choices.

 

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THE GREEN PRINCE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF

 

What is strange is that at the beginning of the film Gonen says to the camera that his recruitment of Mosab was “the beginning of the end of my career.” You first think this is because he failed in his mission but then you realise it is because he began to see Mosab as a human being with hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations. He could no longer simply use him as an asset to be discarded once he had no use.

There are some very confronting scenes and imagery. At one point both Yitzhak and Yousef describe the interrogation process from opposite sides of the table. Yousef was turned over to the Shin Bet after being caught purchasing weapons. He did intend to use these weapons to commit a terrorist act. His description of the interrogation process on his body and mind are truly harrowing. Yitzhak tells us there was something about Yousef that indicated he might turn and spy for Shin Bet. Yousef relates to the camera that originally, he said yes to spying for Israel in order to stop what he’d been enduring for weeks on end. He is then sent to the Hamas section of a maximum security prison. The first question he must answer in prison is if he had been offered the opportunity to spy for Shin Bet. “If you answered no,” Yousef says, “they knew you were lying. Everyone is asked to spy.” Whilst in prison he began to question his own loyalties to Hamas and terrorist action. He leaves the prison seeing violence from both sides as the real enemy.

 

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THE GREEN PRINCE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF

 

I don’t want to spoil too much of the story because it is essential viewing for anyone interested in the conflict. Regardless of what one’s opinion is it is primarily about the more universal, relatable aspects of human nature. Our common bonds, our common ties. It raises important pertinent questions after viewing that I think will be relatable to both sides and hopefully forge real dialogue amongst opponents.

The movies gets most of its power from the back and forth of listening to each side tell its story. The final moments of this movie are tense for all parties. Yitzhak is detained in the United States after his book is published detailing his work with both Shin Bet and Hamas. Yousef fled to the United States under the pretext of studying. But in reality it was to get away from the Shin Bet. He realised that continued work with them would have him exposed. He sees his only chance to escape the net is to go public. This he does. In the United States – Hamas are listed as a terrorist organisation. This means certain deportation for Yousef. Knowing that deportation back to Palestine will be a death sentence for Yousef (whose cover is now blown as an Israeli agent) Yitzhak risks his own life and travels to help him.

Sometimes a great story is enough to overcome mediocre storytelling, and that’s the case with the documentary THE GREEN PRINCE. The b-roll is repetitive; the interviewees leave holes in the narrative and the dramatisations are a little cheesy. This takes a little bit of the gloss of the movie. But it is an incredible tale and one hopefully that can do something to alleviate decades of hatred.

 

SCREENING AT:

NSW: Bondi Junction Event Cinemas, Chauvel

VIC: Cinema Nova, Classic Elsternwick

QLD: Palace Centro

SA: Palace Eastend

WA: Cinema Paradiso

ACT: Palace Electric

TAS: State Cinema Hobart

 

4 Pops