Take a Drink: whenever you wonder how the hell Israeli “recruitment tactics” are ever successful
Take a Drink: for security cam or drone footage
Take a Drink: when either side violates the spirit if not the letter of the Geneva Conventions
Take a Drink: for spy games and ruses
Take a Drink: whenever somebody sticks their neck out for another person
Do a Shot: for dramatic reveals
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
You’re a pretty brave guy or gal, right? Spiders Pshaw! You barely even look away before consigning them to immortality with your Croc. Strange dogs? A little sweet talking and pocket bacon will take care of that. Somebody tries to kidnap a loved one? If Liam Neeson’s frail elderly body can handle those fast Taken cuts, surely your calorie-enriched and Taken-educated physique can get the job done.
We can all be John McClane if we just want it hard enough.
Well, as courageous as you undoubtedly are, you’ve got nothing on Mohammed Hassan Yousef. The Green Prince documents how this eldest son of a Hamas founder turned against his own family and worked as an informant to the Israeli Shin Bet Agency in an effort to save as many lives as he could. Then he converted to Christianity, moved to the U.S., wrote a book about his experiences, and is now developing a film about the historical life of Mohammed. That’s not poking the Muslim Bear, it’s sticking your head in its mouth.
Yes, this is another Israeli/Palestinian conflict doc, but it approaches it from a much more personal perspective. You won’t get any sweeping generalizations, conflict timelines, or roadmaps to peace here, but rather the story of two men who experienced it on the inside, coming together across ideological and national lines to save some lives. However, it’s also more pragmatic than that- neither side’s hands are clean, and neither Yousef nor his handler turned friend Gonen Ben-Itzhak shy from revealing the brutality, human rights abuses, and cold-bloodedness of both sides, and both of their eventual disillusionment at that.
Nope, hugs aren’t going to solve this.
The Green Prince also plays a bit like a spy handler procedural. We see every step of Yousef’s journey from angry youth intent on killing an Israeli, any Israeli, because of the treatment of his father to a young man willingly helping them foil suicide bombings on Israeli targets. Ben-Itzhak reveals the mind games and manipulations used to recruit informants and the incredible lengths gone to maintain their cover, but also how their trust and relationship deepened and they took greater risks for each other. The film wraps up with Ben-Itzhak piercing Shin Bet’s veil of silence in order to testify for Yousef,, facing deportation and certain death when the U.S. discovers his former terrorist ties. That’s courage, folks.
On a technical level, Director Nadav Shirman mixes interviews and source material with incredibly cinematic recreations of Yousef’s experiences. These dark, shadowy, backlit scenes feel more like something out of Zodiac or Once Upon a Time in Anatolia than a documentary.
Only Ceylan can turn 2.5 hours of headlights into jaw-dropping art.
However, some of the recreations, particularly the ones involving Yousef, who now looks shockingly different after a reconstructive jaw surgery, playing his younger self stick out like sore thumbs. You also get more than a whiff of pro-Israeli bias, but that’s to be expected and doesn’t change the facts of these two’s incredible story.
The Green Prince is a stylishly shot documentary with an utterly fascinating subject- a man who forsook family and nationality, risking everything to save innocent lives.