This past week, I took advantage of an Apple Store special and rented four documentaries for .99 a pop. I get 30 days to watch them so plenty of time to work them into the schedule.They will help with research and who can complain about cheap research?
The first one I watched was The Green Prince. This documentary is about the son of a Hamas leader who was turned by Israel’s Shin Bet – their secret police – and made an informer. As it turns out, it didn’t take much prodding. Needless to say, being inside the inner-circle of Hamas made this guy a valuable asset. The guy of course ended up being found out, moved to the States where thanks to Israel he was nearly deported as a terrorist risk. Of course, he can never go back to Gaza for Hamas will kill him first chance they get. He wrote a book and is still in the States.
I’m surprised by the technique used to make this documentary. I think the only two people who speak in the entire film are The Green Prince and his Shin Bet handler – who ended up saving his life at the U.S. hearing by appearing on his behalf in spite of his superiors. The Green Prince is mostly in a room telling his side of the story and while there are clips of terrorist events worked into the film, this is basically a conversation with The Green Prince himself. The film suffers a bit from not expanding its scope.
The conversation isn’t helped by the fact The Green Prince isn’t a real likeable guy. It is easy to see why Shin Bet was able to turn him. The guy is delusional, narcissistic really, in the way he views his role in the world. The Shin Bet handler even alludes to this at times in telling how The Green Prince acted on his own, thinking he was above the consequences. When you listen to The Green Prince talk, you see a guy who couldn’t live up to his father’s reputation so he convinced himself he could save his family and the world from Hamas by helping Shin Bet when the truth was more along the lines of him thriving off the excitement and not wanting to be hurt.
I thought one of the more interesting segments in the film wasn’t about The Green Prince at all. There is a point in the film where they discuss what the Israeli prisons are like and how they are actually ran on the inside. Each prison is segregated by the prisoners into camps or factions and their own security monitors what goes on. They torture and kill people who they feel might be informers. The film doesn’t paint a pleasant picture of the inner-workings of the prisons.
There should’ve been more of this supplementary material in the film because the self-grandiose nature of The Green Prince wears thin after awhile. At points, I felt sorry for his Shin Bet handler and almost felt sorry for his Hamas’ father. I’m not sure that is what the filmmaker was aiming for in the end. The film is interesting as it does give an insight into the workings of Shin Bet – and some of their failings – and Hamas in Gaza. It is a rare glimpse so for that reason I’d give it a 4/5 rating.