Thoughts On: Son Of Babylon - Aftermath

02/06/2018

Son Of Babylon - Aftermath

Quick Thoughts: Son Of Bablylon (ابن بابل , 2010)


Made by Mohamed Al-Daradji, this is the Iraqi film of the series.


Son of Babylon is a film about the very idea of aftermath and is so with a focus on the mass graves left in Iraqi soil by Saddam Hussein's brutal regime. It follows the journey of just two of tens-of-thousands of people who lost family members in the 1991 uprisings that saw an uncoordinated mass of citizens revolt against Hussein's rule. As we follow a 12 year-old boy and his grandmother there is then a constant sense of futile individuality; questions of why we follow this particular pair when they search, like thousands of others, among the corpses--not even corpses, but now bones, rags and dust--that amount to well over 50,000 in number - most of which remain unidentifiable. With only a shadow to search for that soon becomes a skeleton buried in a desert, the futile individuality cast over the son and grandmother falls beneath their feet and all around them. Not only are they lost in a crowd of sorrows, prayers and cries, but that crowd descends through the depths of colourless sand once drenched in blood, but now dry, anonymous and unknown. Who are these people and who are they looking for? The question only ever paints an image of two turned backs, archetypes of empty, unknowable melancholy, pacing along a road towards a black smoke horizon.

Embedded in this dearth of hope and meaning emerges a flickering light in character arcs away from bitterly sharp vitriol and towards compassion and responsibility. And so there is a subtle account of a death after death giving rise to life. The tragedy that befalls the characters of this film is that death follows death perpetually; life like murky waters coursing through ones fingers, leaving behind only stains of silt. Alas, from tragedy emerges chance, from absence emerges potential, and so sorrow is slowly replaced by responsibility by the labours of compassion.

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