DISCLAIMER: I, like most people, contain regular human emotions: fear, jealousy, compassion…etc. But, have yet to be overwhelmed enough during a movie to shed a tear. EVER. Until watching this movie. This movie may cause an intense swelling of empathy for your fellow man, which may cause a single, unexpected tear (or a flood of them) to roll down your cheek(s).
Jehane Noujaim’s Academy-Award nominated documentary, The Square (2013), tells the story of an oppressed people and their determination to right the ultimate wrong: the absence of freedom, basic human rights. It documents their struggle to overturn a corrupt government regime and strive for democracy and everything that comes along with the ideals (freedom of speech, press, religion). A truly inspiring window into the personalities, community, and dialogue that surface during a revolution.
The Square, does a great job of explaining all facets of the revolution: the political history and the dynamic between political groups, religious communities, age groups…etc. This allows viewers to immerse themselves and understand the situation completely, even with little knowledge prior to watching the film. Empathy is the motor behind this movie, and Noujaim sets it up perfectly.
The documentary follows a few individuals throughout filming: Ahmed Hassan, Magdy Ashour, and Khalid Abdalla. They make up the voice of the millions of revolutionaries who could no longer tolerate the injustices performed by Mubarak’s regime. They represent the people as a collective consciousness and demonstrate the perseverance, dedication, and organisation necessary to orchestrate a revolution on such a large scale. Bird’s eye shots of Tahrir Square and the streets of Cairo during the sit-ins and demonstrations are truly inspiring, beautiful moments to witness and display the scale of this movement properly. The mass frustration bleeds through the screen.
Through these people, viewers are given the opportunity to witness different perspectives of the revolution through the lens of: Egyptian revolutionaries, members of the Muslim Brotherhood, political exiles, and young children. Although their views vary on certain political ideals, all these groups share a common fear of the uncertain future. This uncertainty is harnessed into a feeling of community that brings revolutionaries together for the greater cause. Ousting Mubarek was the first step, but ridding the nation of his institutions and policies is a whole other fight and the main objective. Having their dictator of thirty years resign wasn’t enough of a change for the revolutionaries. They didn’t want a replacement for Mubarak. They wanted a complete overhaul of the system and weren’t going to stop until that was accomplished.
The uncertain future pushed the revolutionaries to stand even firmer in place about their beliefs. It’s understood that change can’t occur in a few short years, at least not on this scale, but a proper basis can be set up. Those involved felt as if they were part of something bigger than themselves, displaying complete selflessness and no hesitance to become a martyr for the cause.