Koch Lorber presents
Making Of (2006)
"I'm going to show you what Bahta can do!"- Bahta (Lotfi Abdelli)
Stars: Lotfi Abdelli
Other Stars: Lotfi Dziri, Afef Ben Mahmoud, Fatma Saidane, Fouad Litaeim, Helmi Dridi
Director: Nouri Bouzid
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief violence, mild language)
Run Time: 02h:00m:00s
Release Date: 2008-06-10
DVD ReviewCelebrated Tunisian writer/director Nouri Bouzid addresses the prickly subject of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism in this 2006 film, in which the Western tagline is "terrorists aren't born, they're made".
And that's the unflinching message here, as Bouzid follows the life of disenfranchised twenty-something Bahta (Lotfi Abdelli), whose passion for the curious art of breakdancing is constantly eclipsed by run-ins with the local authorities, who hound Bahta and his friends at every turn. It's not long before the pushed-to-the-breaking-point Bahta draws the attention of a cadre of fundamentalists who manipulatively cultivate and groom the young man for a role of a suicide bomber.
As Iraq falls—and the now familiar images of the statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled by U.S. military—televisions in crowded cafes scream that "it's time to stand up" because "your honor is being sullied". That is the tipping point for Abdelli's Bahta, and it serves to separate him from his friends and family as Bouzid shifts into the real core of the story for the film's second half, revealing how the say-the-right-thing fundamentalist handlers play on an individual's weaknesses in order to coldly turn them into something they didn't know they wanted to become.
But let's talk briefly about what makes Making Of rather unique, or at the very least somewhat unusual. Bouzid employs a strange narrative technique three times during the film, the first about 45 minutes in. During a particularly intense scene between Bahta and the fundamentalist leader, Abdelli the actor breaks character and begins berating the director for trampling on his personal belief system and the script's message, threatening to walk off the film. These pretend-to-break-the-fourth-wall moments are jarring and odd—at least the first time it occurs—yet it allows Bouzid the opportunity to tackle on a more direct and forthright level a critique of the subject under the guise of base, unadulterated arguments, with Abdelli ostensibly defending his personal belief system.
There's very little in the way of good news in Making Of, as Bouzid meticulously tracks the development and nurturing of a future suicide bomber. This view from the other perspective is compelling, disturbing, and ultimately tragic but that's to be expected, given the subject matter. The slow descent of Lotfi Abdelli's Bahta—often unknowingly against his will—and the director's curious use of artificial "behind the scenes" moments turns this thought-provoking film in directions that give Bouzid the flexibility to force his message even harder, and ultimately more directly.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.78:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: A somewhat disappointing 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen on this Koch Lorber release, with the print sporting an abundance of nicks and specks throughout, as well as a fair amount of edge enhancement. Colors look moderately bright in daylight sequences, but the overall transfer seems a tad too murky, especially on interiors or night scenes. Details lack the sort of pop to make this transfer really stand out, rendering the result unsatisfactorily below average.
Color me disappointed.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: The original Arabic language track has been issued in 2.0 stereo. Voices are generally clear sounding, though lacking the sort of fullness found on more sophisticated mixes. As a result, the audio track comes up a little short, giving most of the presentation a rather flat texture. However, no measurable hiss or crackle were found.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Summer '04, Chop Shop, Man Push Cart, Fratricide, Hostage, Divine Intervention
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Extras Review: A pair of extras both feature artistic director of the Tribeca Film Festival Peter Scarlet. The first is Introduction By Peter Scarlet (02m:05s), shown as part of Link TV's World Cinema Series airing of Making Of, in which he yaks up his love of this film. The second is entitled Nouri Bouzid and Peter Scarlet: Interview At The Taormina Film Festival (14m:22s), shot in Italy in July of 2007. The interview features writer/director Bouzid as well as lead actor Lotfi Abdelli, and while Scarlet's questions are in English, the responses are presented in Arabic with English subs.
Extras conclude with the feature's theatrical trailer, along with six additional Koch Lorber titles. The disc is cut into 12 chapters, with optional English subs.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsMuslim Nouri Bouzid's volatile "critique of Islam" 2006 release Making Of peeks under the hood of how a terrorist is made, and it isn't always a pretty picture. Perhaps it takes too long to reach the point we all expect it to, yet the performances are so well above board it doesn't matter.
Rich Rosell 2008-08-08