Film review: Black Gold
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Vying for space in an already crowded Blockbuster battle for 2012 is Black Gold, a cinematic epic in the classic sense of the word that harks back to the Golden Age of Cinema. It is a grand attempt from the Qatar film industry to battle with the Hollywood big-boys, but one that, for all its grandeur, falls a little short. This desert-epic focuses on the sparring of two warring leaders, and an agreement that no one owns a strip of land called ‘The Yellow Belt’. Nesib, Emir of Hobeika (Antonio Banderas), bodies of their warriors litter the battlefield. The victorious Nesib lays down his peace terms to his rival Amar, Sultan of Salmaah (Mark Strong). The two men agree that neither may lay claim to the area of no man’s land. In return and according to the tribal customs of the time, Nesib will “adopt”- or take hostage- Amar’s two boys Saleeh (Akin Gaz) and Auda (Tahar Rahim); a guarantee that neither man can invade the other. Years later, Saleeh and Auda have grown into young men. Saleeh, the warrior, itches to escape his gilded cage and return to his father’s land. Auda cares only for books and the pursuit of knowledge. One day, their adopted father Nesib is visited by an American oil man from Texas (Corey Johnson). He tells the Emir that his land is blessed with oil and promises him riches beyond his imagination. And from here the story unfolds… Black Gold plays the neat trick of offering a narrative that will engage mass-audiences, built of love and basic power struggles whilst dipping its story-telling pond into a series of deep and thought-provoking issues such as faith, education, the perils of both traditional and progressive thinking and the greed of capitalism. The fact that it merely glosses over these points is both a plus in that it won’t bore viewers with no interest in issue-based cinema and a negative in that for all its potential to be food for the mind it is merely a snack.
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