The Square
weavers   fandango
Verdict: See It!     
Zorianna's Review
Much was made in the media about the goings on of the 2011 Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square that saw the resignation of President Mubarak. The whole world applauded the Egyptian people and the media moved on to cover other things. This documentary goes where the media could not go, and continues the story long after mainstream media stopped. Director Jehane Noujaim takes you right into Cairo's Tahrir Square so that you are living these moments with the people of Egypt. This is not a stylized film. There are no bells and whistles here. There is nothing slick about it. It's very underground, very off-the-cuff and very informative. The Square is a great way to get caught up on a major international historical event that's still unfolding as we speak. Though it's very topical and current, years from now The Square will provide a valuable glimpse into Egypt's history in a way the not all countries have been able to have the luxury to document.

FINAL VERDICT: SEE IT!

Salim's Review
The Square is heartfelt and gut-wrenching from the beginning montage to the ending shot of Tahrir Square. We follow the full span of the revolution from the fall of Hosni Mubarak up until the fall of the democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. We are taken to the streets of this revolution through the perspective of three very different people: Ahmed, Khalid, and Magdy. Each of these people is extremely unique in their own way, though all are unified for a free Egypt. The film works so well because it gives a face to the news. Much of the camera work is done at the ground level in order to show you the problems with the revolution, but also the camaraderie that grew from this type of experience. All the people in "The Square" or Tahrir Square, which becomes a focal point for the revolution, are united under the idea that they are all willing to do anything to be free. Muslims and Christians band together for a free Egypt and though tensions rise with the Brotherhood, there is always a unification of the majority, born from a new and improved protest culture that will take to the streets anytime something is obviously against the people. This results in a picture that feels extremely authentic and hopeful, if not terrifying at times. Directed confidently and extremely bravely by Jehane Noujaim, The Square places you smack dab in the middle of the action with some amazing camera work and intimate detail into the lives of members of this revolution. The only gripe I have with this film is the lack of a female voice on screen. It's intriguing to me that this is made by a very strong female director, yet it lacks a certain female perspective. This is not to diminish the revolution in any way, I just wanted the full picture. The Square will leave you with a hole in your heart with its many ups and downs, leaving you to wonder if Egypt will ever become stable, and if so at what cost?

FINAL VERDICT: SEE IT!

Leah's Review
The new documentary from director Jehane Noujaim (Control Room) is The Square which captures moments of the Egyptian uprising over the course of 2 years, as it unfolds and smolders around Tahrir Square. The filmmaker's conflict-zone journalistic style immerses viewers in events and debates, which at times are explosive and deadly. As a record of historical events, The Square captures segments of a changing world as it happens. Its embrace of a direct cinema style places us right on the edge of the action as it unfolds before the camera, with no 'intervention' from the filmmaker. Unfortunately, this style, mixed with looming festival deadlines, The Square is thematically rich (capital "R" revolution) with no thesis. The film suggests that several elements may be under critique here: the visual image of conflict, the role of the media, the Square itself, etc., but all are abandoned as quickly as they are introduced, leaving The Square without a cohesive way to organize its characters and events. Right now, it a bunch of footage strung together along a timeline. The five social players followed throughout (with unequal weight) function largely as ideological positions, while others are introduced and left hanging like fragments. Other than life (which is the same thing that every other Egyptian had to lose), Magdy, a father of five and beneficiary of the Muslim Brotherhood (advocates for a Muslim theocracy), is the only one profiled who has anything material at stake. Ahmed is brilliant and passionate in his commitment to revolution and organizing, even if he has no plan for what happens after the president is deposed. Jehane Noujaim uses a mix of interviews, archival and original footage, civilian footage, camera phone footage, staged scenarios, ostensibly to give the film an authentic "as it happened." The risk of doing so without a thesis, is that the film relies too heavily on the visceral qualities of the images to make its point, and neglects to assemble the footage in such a way that the lives and events build in dramatic tension and eventually deliver a satisfactory climax. Without this, The Square posts ground level insight into recent Egyptian turmoil that is a couple of notches above the best internet news sources

FINAL VERDICT: STREAM IT!

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