Review

'We Are the Giant' gives a fractured view of Arab Spring

'We Are the Giant' review: Greg Barker seems interested only in the personal stories, not in the larger causes

Profiling agitators on the front lines in Libya, Syria and Bahrain, the documentary "We Are the Giant" puts names and faces to the "Arab Spring" unrest.

After attending Magna Vista High School in Ridgeway, Va., Muhannad Bensadik visited his father's hometown, Benghazi, Libya, and joined the uprising. Cab driver Ghassan Yassin and mechanical engineer Motaz Murad served as spark plugs in the nonviolent resistance in Syria. And though sisters Maryam and Zainab al-Khawaja were reared in Copenhagen, where their activist father was granted asylum, they return to their native Bahrain to participate in protests there.

Filmmaker Greg Barker seems interested only in the rebels' personal stories, not in their causes. The film splices together three disparate narratives with few parallels and provides no historical or cultural context. It doesn't even begin to cover the scale and toll of the cataclysm in any of the three countries, not to mention the Arab Spring as a whole. Barker just hammers home the human-interest angle with a stirring score that serves to instruct the appropriate emotional response to each scene. The tacked-on uplift in the end is beyond comprehension, given that some of its subjects remain in peril.

The director's artsy montages lump Vladimir Lenin, Mao Tse-tung and Fidel Castro with Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi as great revolutionaries. Does Barker really mean to intimate that dictators are A-OK?

------------

"We Are the Giant."

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
69°