It has been nearly 3 decades since the world witnessed the Rose Garden Handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat. This event took place at the White House in front of then-US President Bill Clinton. This was a landmark moment of agreement as both parties finally recognized the legitimacy of the other party. Then again, this ‘peace’ didn’t go for long as only after two years, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Israeli extremists. The agreement would have seen the beginning of the Oslo process that will take forward the peace negotiations These Oslo Accords even gave PLO limited control of self-governance over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Unfortunately, these Accords were opposed strongly leading to the aforementioned assassination. Now that JT Rogers has come up with a movie on the same, let’s get on with the Oslo Movie Review.
Now that the whole World is yet again witnessing the ongoing events surrounding Israel and Palestine, the movie came out at just the right time. Perhaps, it is time that we again have some off-the-books peace negotiations between the parties. The previous meetings in Oslo, Norway, took place over the course of six months. Then again, the drama for the same was able to bring it down to measly three hours while the film did it in two hours. The main reason, why these meetings were conducted in secret was because of former Israeli laws that forbade interaction with or acknowledgment of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Years later, JT Rogers created a play on the same events as it managed to win the Tony Award. And now, we get to see the story draw out from a cinematic standpoint, in Oslo that released on 29th May 2021 on HBO.
While the ‘Handshake’ did take place in the US, the country had little to do with the Oslo Accords. The ones who took over the roles of brokers conducting discussions between Israel and the PLO were the nonpartisan Norwegian couple of Mona Juul and Terje Rød-Larsen. Mona Juul was a diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Meanwhile, her husband, Terje Rød-Larsen was a sociologist and director of the Fafo Foundation. And they happen to be the lead characters for the film as well. This Norweigan coupled aimed to conduct covert negotiations between Israel and the PLO all while taking over them as chaperones. They are to provide unbiased opinions on the various events and help the two parties secure the Oslo Accords. These long-drawn-out meetings took place from 1992 to 1993 over the course of six months. The same was mashed into a two-hour window for the film.
Terje and Mona were initially inspired by their visit to the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip. These events took place a few years before the events of the film. This led to the couple’s efforts in trying to bring peace within the community. So, the couple managed to persuade the representatives to come and take part in the secret negotiations. There were some interesting conversations as representatives of each group gives their remarks over the other. Along with this, we even witness some polite talk as Hassan gleefully reacts to Norweignan Waffles. These representatives spend most of the time confined in a room with occasional strolls outside the room to try and hammer down some principles. Here, we see how little influence the couple could have in the international negotiations taking place in front of them.
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Oslo Movie Review: Verdict
A review for the movie Oslo would have us believe that it fails to achieve its objective as the impact it makes on an individual turned out to be weak. It is already very difficult to play out a narrative in a closed room. That is because settings like these tend to lose interest among the audience. Then again, Director, Bartlett Sher in his film debut has done well in this aspect. By making use of camera filters, and usual strolls outside the room, and some flashbacks, the film does manage to retain some attention to the story. Along with this, we see a series of quick camera motions. This repeated pacing around the table creates a sense of claustrophobic-ness. But this cinematics can only do so much. As being a historic drama there isn’t enough room for creativity that the filmmakers can employ in the story itself.
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