West Beirut: a movie that sticks

The movie West Beirut, opened my eyes to how oblivious our generation can be towards one of the biggest shapers of Lebanese society, being the 1975 civil war.

Why? Because the war was so much more than fights, militiamen, shelling and wild noises. It was a main reason for friendship, endeavors and pure love, like the relationships portrayed in the movie between Tarek and Omar, Tarek and May, as well as Riad and Hala.

Even though the country was divided on the basis of sect and religion, Tarek made it his ultimate stance and job to minimize the strife by being friends with May, who was a Christian.

He was rejected by his friend Omar by merely seeing the cross on her neck, but Tarek simply ignored him because he knows that there are no hidden repercussions behind his relationship with such an innocent young girl, who is facing exactly the same problems as they are.

The movie extends beyond the realm of a bittersweet reality, when Omar soothes Tarek and shows him that he is not only protected by the Quran but by the cross as well, which became a symbol for many people living the war during the time. Up until this day, I know several people who do the same as an act of nobility and protection.

Definitely, it was the children who suffered the most during the war because they weren’t particularly enjoying their childhood the way they should, and West Beirut knew exactly how to portray this. Despite Tarek’s endless positivity and perseverance, he broke down several times at the thought of having a vague future.

Other strong statements during the movie were both the beginning and the end. Tarek, being the patriotic character, sang the Lebanese national anthem with pride, while the school’s director was making the students fall into the mandate and sing the French anthem. Tarek was able to pick up on the sensitivities that the Lebanese faced during the times of the mandate with the loss of identity and authority.

The ending had its own sad connotation. From the scene, we understood that Hala passed away and the family became broken, which happened to many of the families in Lebanon, a situation that they cannot overcome until this day.

West Beirut is not an ordinary movie that can be passed, but a memory that many should reflect on and that generations should learn from, not for the relationships and artillery but the hidden messages and humor that filled the entire timeline.