Wedding in Galilee (1988)




Director:  Michel Khleifi 

Starring:   Mohamad Ali El Akili (Mukhtar), Bushra Karaman (Mother), Makram Khoury (Military Governor), Yussuf Abu-Warda (Bacem), Nazih Akleh (Groom), Anna Condo (Bride), Sonia Amar (Soumaya), Eyad Anis (Hassan), Wal Barghouti (Ziad), Juliano Mer (Officer), Ian Chemi (Officer 2), Tali Dorat (Soldier). 

in order for a Palestinian wedding to take place, they have to invite the occupation military governor


Spoiler warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.

Salim Saleh Daoud goes to see the Israeli Military Governor in order to get permission for his son's wedding.  The father objects to the whole process of having to get permission and dealing with the military curfews.  The Military Governor gets defensive and says that Daoud lives in one of those extremist villages and that they have to learn to respect the will of the Israelis.  Things are going badly, until another Israeli soldier intervenes.  He asks Daoud to step outside for a minute while he talks to the Military Governor.  The soldier tells the Military Governor that he should grant the permission for the wedding with the condition that the Military Governor himself be the guest of honor.  The Military Governor accepts and then Daoud accepts. 

The father returns to his village and tells his wife that he wants to make this wedding the finest wedding ever given in the village.  But when he tells others in the village about the Military Governor having to come to the wedding, they object to the idea strenuously.  Some even talk about using the occasion to kill the Military Governor. 

When the son, Adel, learns about the Military Governor coming to the wedding, he is distraught.  He thinks the whole thing is unpatriotic and wonders how he will be able to face the people of the village. 

Adel's teeen-age sister Sumaya likes a man named Ziad, who is plotting with two others to kill the Military Governor. 

The day of the wedding is somewhat tense because there is fear that among the wedding party there are some who will try to kill the Military Governor.  The Governor arrives and sits at the table with three other soldiers.  Nearby are Israeli soldiers in jeeps. The bride, Samia, is prepared for the marriage by the women, while Adel is prepared by the young men. 

The plotters are stopped twice from carrying out their plan of assassination.

The time comes for the bride and groom to consummate the marriage and they retire to a separate room.  But Adel still seems to be upset with his father over inviting the Military Governor.  He is so mad that he actually grabs a knife at one time to stab his father, but is stopped by the bride.  The end result of this is that Adel cannot consummate the marriage.  This proves highly embarrassing to both his and her parents. 

Everyone is waiting and waiting and waiting and the atmosphere grows more and more tense between the wedding attendees and the Israelis.  The atmosphere is so threatening that one expects violence to break out at any time.  

Finally, to prevent the bride and groom and the parents and their families from being totally shamed, the bride takes her own virginity using a rolled up section of the bed sheet.  Then Adel gives the sheet to his mother so she can show the blood to the wedding attendees as proof of the consummation of the marriage.

And surprise, surprise, the Israelis leave without anyone getting hurt.    

The movie works because of the constant tension created by the fear that violence is going to break out at any moment between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  It is also interesting to watch the intricate wedding ceremony, but it's the tension that is the real star of the movie.  Frankly, I was surprised that there was not an outbreak of violence at the end of the movie. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 



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