SIFF 2012: ‘The Law in These Parts’ [Review]
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In Ra’anan Alexandrowicz The Law in These Parts, we’re shown an in-depth analysis of injustice towards Palestinians by the Israel law enforcement. The socio-political documentary uncovers a behind-the-scenes look at the Middle East conflict. Playing out more like a research report than a fascinating documentary, The Law in These Parts is definitely for those who want a no-thrills, informative look at the conflict and justice. It’s not riveting, in terms of style, but the information is riveting in a much more useful way.
Broken up into five “episodes,” or sections, the documentary starts with the past and progresses through the violent outbreak in 1987. It eventually offers up “appropriate solutions,” although it almost seems like a lost cause today. Change is the only solution.
I’ll speak only for myself when admitting I knew barely anything about the subject beforehand. I understand it’s important (and very relevant), but not only did I misunderstand the history, but I grossly underestimated the dire situation.
The documentary is education centered, but The Law In These Parts also explores the power struggle between those “entrusted in the law.” Not only are the police and military on different pages, but their power constricts the general population. Add in terrorism and a grim picture is painted. It’s dangerous to generalize (which the film does a good job of avoiding), but it’s pretty obvious that the local population is imprisoned in violence.
With politics and foreign affairs, the general population has grown increasingly pessimistic. The filmmakers present a similar tone. This doesn’t make it easier to process the information either. It’s not necessarily a downfall, especially since it doesn’t aim at presenting a happy subject.
Documentaries, in general, vary in style. Some are cinematic, some are entertaining, some are interesting, and most try to combine these adjectives. However different they seem, all documentaries aim at education. The audience is given a documented account of a particular event. The Law in These Parts fits into the informative category. There isn’t a subject we should become more familiar with than this. Instead of turning our backs to the problem, we should try to help.
The documentary may lose some people here, as the solutions category is pretty pessimistic. However, the first step to solving a problem is understanding the issue. No matter how “boring” the film may seem, at least it paints a broad and full picture of the core issue.
For those interested in the Middle East conflict or those that want to gain an understanding of the social and legal injustices, The Law in These Parts may be the movie for you. It isn’t overly cinematic, but it has great educational value.
I caught the movie at the 38th Seattle International Film Festival. For those in the area, the movie is playing at the following times and locations:
May 27 – 1:30 PM (AMC Pacific Place 11)
May 29 – 6:30 PM (SIFF Cinema Uptown)