x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dawn of the World

From the undeveloped marshlands between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers comes the simple tale of Dawn of the World.

From the undeveloped marshlands between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers comes the simple tale of Dawn of the World. The film begins with a pair of children, Zahra (Hafsia Herzi) and Mastour (Waleed Abou el Magd), living in a small, isolated community forever suffering as a consequence of distant wars being waged by their country. The story follows them into the beginning of adulthood, as the young man becomes a soldier and the young woman shortly thereafter becomes his widow. Mastour's dying wish is for his best friend in the army, Riad (Karim Saleh), to marry Zahra and care for her. Riad travels to the marshlands and faces up to the challenges from both Zahra's community and the military world he has left behind. Dawn of the World has received much critical acclaim, and with good reason. The director and writer Abbas Fahdel has lovingly rendered a little-known corner of Iraq, and succeeds in conveying the ravages of war with almost no recourse to violence. The storyline is elegant in its simplicity, with only a handful of characters moving composedly through the most appalling situations. The deep quiet of the film, wrought through sparse dialogue and music, sharpens one arresting image after another - of soldiers trudging through a desert of half-buried corpses, of the wrecked body of a bomb in the still marsh waters. Dawn of the World is primarily a work of artistry. It cannot be appreciated without a good degree of patience, so anyone looking for pure diversion would do well to steer clear. However, those willing to go along with the film's slow pace and austere story will be richly rewarded.