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(Freida Pinto, Willem Dafoe, Hiam Abbass, Vanessa Redgrave, Alexander Siddig, et al / DVD / PG-13 / (2010) 2011 / Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Overview: From Academy Award® nominated director Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), and based on the acclaimed semi-autobiographical novel, Miral is the story of a Palestinian girl coming of age amidst the war zone of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

DVD Verdict: The stunning 'Miral' is Julian Schnabel’s first drama since his exquisite ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.’ Truly an unhappy affair that’s heartfelt in purpose but muddled in execution, it begins at a party on Christmas day, 1947. It is there that we are introduced to Hind Husseini (the wonderful Hiam Abbass), who unbeknown to us, will be the most important character - the glue, if you will - in the movie.

If you want it in a deeper format to understand ... the film, shot in Israel and Palestine, is an adaptation of Rula Jebreal’s autobiographical novel – written by the author herself – and spans a period between 1947 and 1994 that encompasses the founding of Israel, the Six Day War, the First Intifada and the Oslo Agreement.

After Schnabel introduces us to Hind, we begin meeting other Palestinian women that are victims of racial, political or sexual abuse. One of them is Miral (Freida Pinto), who is raised by her loving father. He tries his best to protect Miral against her surroundings, by sending her to Hind's school.

However, it is difficult to escape reality in Palestine, especially in 1987, during the first Intifada, where Miral sees firsthand the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis. Miral, as you can imagine, will have to make some serious choices in order to survive a harsh life under occupation.

It’s 25 years – 40 minutes of screen time – before we meet Miral, by which time the film has established a fatal baton-passing style as we move between the stories of Husseini, Miral’s mother Nadia, Nadia’s cellmate Fatima and, finally, Miral. In truth, Schnabel presents a subtle, smart portrait of a society subjugated by a powerful neighbor, and how they live day by day. A real gem that deserved a better audience. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.