15th Jul2014

‘The Square’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Features: Ahmed Hassan, Khalid Abdalla, Magdy Ashour, Ramy Essam, Buthayna Kamel, Aida Elkashef, Ragia Omran | Written and Directed by Jehane Noujaim


Documentaries when done right can strike a nerve with the viewer, especially if the subject is something that they can connect to emotionally.  The Square is a documentary that everybody can relate to because of the themes of freedom and democracy.  Whether we live in a country that has democracy in some form or a lack of it we can all relate to that need to be able to live our lives without fear of persecution.

The Square is a film about the Egyptian Revolution, we all saw the pictures on television and saw the country fight for the end of the Mubarak regime.  The documentary looks beyond that moment though when many of the cameras stopped rolling and the international media stopped reporting on the continuing struggle.  With the resulting military regime and then moving to the control of the Muslim Brotherhood the fight wasn’t over, especially when a call for violence against the revolutionaries was called to put an end to their uprising.

As I’ve said many times when I look at documentaries to truly be a good documentary it has to be a fair and unbiased look at the events and give a reasonable argument to win over the audience.  The Square could have been very biased, especially with the amount of coverage that it gives to the revolutionaries and what Tahrir Square meant to them, but it doesn’t fall into that trap.  Instead we are given not only their side of the argument but also that of the Muslim Brotherhood who have their own view on what the revolution was and is now.  It’s very emotive, especially when you see some of the graphic images from the torture that took place.

When it comes to modern revolution one of the main tools that has to be used is the power of the press.  What we see though is that the press only reports on what is news worthy and many times this means what sells the papers, gets the page hits and gets the ratings on television.  There is a feeling in what you see happening in Egypt that the press had little interest after the first stages of the revolution, many of the issues that still remained were just ignored.  If anything it was also biased in the way it was reported.  The internet can be used to get the realities out, but that too is dependent on an audience out there being interested.  What The Square does is open eyes as to what actually happened and where Egypt sits now, it’s not just about freeing members of the press but a fight for a true democracy.

The Square is a strong and sometimes chilling documentary that looks at a country fighting for the rights of its people and as history has shown, revolutions don’t come straight away, you have to fight to make a true change.  With a fair and unbiased view of the Egyptian Revolution The Square is an eye opener for people outside of Egypt especially “The West” as to the true struggle the country has gone through.  It shows the true face of revolution and the power of the people, something that should never be ignored.

The Square is out now on DVD from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.

***** 5/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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