>I wish I knew how objectionable Muslims and Arabs found “The Kingdom” after viewing the movie. An interesting discussion took place on Rasheed’s World blog, between Rasheed and Fedo the Space Cowboy that I recommend reading.
The movie really revolves around Saudi culture, and the obstacles the FBI faces when trying to discover the perpetrators behind an attack and subsequent suicide bombing of an oil company employees compound, near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The relationship between Al-Ghazi, the Saudi police officer and the FBI crew was interesting to watch. The character of Al-Ghazi was portrayed by Ashraf Barhoum, who is a Christian Arab-Israeli. He, unto himself, is a geographic conundrum.
It is my perception that many American believe that there are two cultures that inhabit Israel. The first culture, the Jews, are perceived as Europeans that were given a part of Palestine in 1947. The second culture, the Palestinians, are perceived as Muslim Arabs, who are also percieved as having part of Palestine taken away from them, as it didn’t really belong to them anyway.
The truth is more complicated, and the truth is somewhat evident in Ashraf Barhoum, an Israeli, and an Arab, and a Christian. That is how complicated Israel is. According to this article from the Jerusalem Post, Mr. Barhoum immersed himself in Saudi culture, in order to convey the Saudi culture to the movie viewer. I imagine that he found this somewhat interesting, in light of the feelings of Saudi Arabia, and those carried by most other Arab World neighbors, about Israel.
The other FBI agents have rather shallow characters, Jennifer Garners character didn’t even really need to exist. I found the actions of the FBI crew to be somewhat irrational (read: Jason Bateman’s character), particularly since this was supposed to be a specially-trained unit. The mealy-mouthed Embassy representative, played by Jeremy Piven, is sufficiently irritating, and if anyone has a right to be upset, it is American Embassy employees, whose characters are almost always portrayed as being spineless lapdogs of the U.S. Administration.
All-in-all, this movie was interesting, portrayed Saudi culture in an interesting light, though I hesitate to label it as “accurate.” After all, this is Hollywood and facts can get in the way of entertainment. There are other, better movies, such as Paradise Now, that are more interesting and potentially more accurate in characterizing culture.