Movie Review by Anita Kasonkomona
Starring: Ian Hart, Linus Roache, Mohamad Chamas, Ziad Lahoud, Fadi Sakr
Director: John Furse
BLIND FLIGHT (based on true facts) is a prison drama and a love story. Brian Keenan, an English teacher (Ian Hart) and John McCarthy, a British journalist, (Linus Roache) were captured in Beirut, Lebanon in 1986 whilst working and living in the Arab city. They were seized by members of the militant Islamic Shia group.
Dark and intense it is a physical metaphor for their emotional journey to personal freedom; the director portrays the emotional and physical distress that was suffered by the two hostages. The film works on many levels; it is about two men from totally different backgrounds who only meet because of the accident of captivity but who learn to care for each other. Ultimately, BLIND FLIGHT is about how, when people are stripped of everything they have, they can still find their own humanity.
The film is very poignant and heart wrenching; in one scene, the two hostages are blindfolded and have their feet chained to the ground. It appears that their guards, too, seem to feel the void of isolation, becoming more petulant, wayward and dangerous. The youngest guard, little more than a boy (Mohammad Karim Koleilat), watches the imperious Said’s (Ziad Lahoud) threatening behaviour towards Brian and John. Taking advantage of Said’s absence, the young boy goads Brian into an attack and then inflicts a terrible beating on him. It is only when Brian cries out with so much anger, pain and frustration that the guard stops the beating. This scene depicts the intolerable cruelty that was experienced by the hostages.
Although quite intense, the director lightens the otherwise grim film with a little humour and joy to the story. One day, they are moved into a larger cell and they glory in the sense of space. At times, the guards, led by their boss, Said, behave erratically. Brian and John hear a severe beating going on in a nearby cell and then – without warning – Said bursts into their cell and pistol-whips them. Trying to recover from the beating, John brings a little light heartedness to the soul when he insists on taking Brian for a “walk”, imagining that they are in the South of France. He describes his favourite celebratory drink, a rum and wine punch. You can feel the chemistry between the two actors, which blends in well with the intensity of the film; they impact on each other in a very positive way so that even through the dark times in that prison cell, you feel the love and compassion that they both hold for each other.
Overall the film was very captivating; I think the message is that even at your lowest point in life, if you look for the flame that keeps burning in your soul, you will find the strength and courage to cope with any situation. There’s a scene where John touches on this vaguely “There are three best things in life: exercise, attainment of knowledge, but above all, is the gift of the spirit…the gift of the spirit is divine”.