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Israel 2014
Directed by
Nadav Schirman
95 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Green Prince

The Green Prince is a fascinating documentary on two levels. On a immediate level it tells the remarkable real life story of Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a prominent Hamas leader, who after being arrested as a potential terrorist as a 17 year old worked for Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, for 10 years before seeking political asylum in the US.  On a broader level it is an intriguing account of the world as we know it as a huge web of deception.

Director Nadav Schirman approach to his film is simple: Mosab talks directly to the camera with his Shin Bet “handler”, Gonen Ben Yitzhak, doing likewise as the two men separately recount the story of their developing relationship from Mosab ‘s arrest as a terrified teenager to Gonen’s visit to San Diego to speak in Mosab’s favour after the US Government decides to deport him to Jordan.  

We have seen many films both documentary and fictional dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict (Jon Stewart’s recent Rosewater is a related instance) so the political aspects are familiar as are the moral dilemmas such internecine conflicts create. What really engages our attention here is the candour with which the two men describe the evolution of their relationship,starting as enemies and ending as friends as a result of a sophisticated campaign of deception, each telling the story from their objectively opposing points of view,

It is a surprisingly gripping back-and-forth saga visually-aided by ample archival video footage and staged recreations. The latter are slightly over-used and one of the distracting things is that, although the end credits assure us that it is, the Yousef in the archival footage doesn’t look like the Yousef speaking to the camera.  

Yousef is very much the film's person of main interest and how he managed to deceive his father, his family and Hamas for so long is virtually incredible. It is definitely not the stuff of espionage movies but rather a testament to human gullibility (and despite the constant references to terrorist “masterminds”, stupidity). It is somewhat remarkable that he is still alive today.

The Green Prince (Yousef’s Israeli code-name) is an intriguing first-hand account of the reality-making power of the human ability to lie, good intentions notwithstanding.

DVD Extras: Deleted Interview extracts; Storyboards

Available from: Madman




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