Best documentary nominee ‘The Square’ enlightens audience


Junior Features Editor

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For the last few years, the media has been exploding with updates on the Egyptian Revolution. There has been violence and turmoil within the country  ever since the protesters began calling for revolution, but with being so far away, keeping up with the situation may be difficult for some Americans [I reworded here with it]. ‘The Square,’ released in 2013, is a documentary demonstrating the struggles that the protesters endured during the Egyptian Revolution as they fought for their freedom.

‘The Square’ was nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary in 2014. It mostly focuses on three close, passionate protesters in Cairo, and their fight to promote Egyptian unity and revolution in the face of police brutality and false promises from their country’s regime. It is set largely in Tahrir Square, where the demonstrations against their oppression were held.

The documentary begins in 2011 with the protesters calling for the resignation of their president, Hosni Mubarak. However, even after they have succeeded and the president agrees to step down, they find that nothing changes.

Large issues that caused the revolution are briefly mentioned, such as a lack of health care, a struggle to pay for education, poverty rates and excessive cruelty from police.

As the movie goes on, the audience is shown several other opinions from protesters’ family members, police, and broadcasts of those in charge. The fight for unity only becomes harder for the protesters to win as different religious beliefs come to focus.

Although several other points of view are included in the documentary, their parts are brief and limited. There is just enough of them to demonstrate extra pressure on and against the protesters. More displays of different points of view would have left the audience better enlightened to the situation and would have made it easier not to be as concerned about how biased the film is.

Despite the fact that the film is mostly focused on the protesters, it also highlights the suffering of the Egyptian people and the lengths the government was willing to go to put down the revolution. The documentary gives clear view to multiple victims of excessive police brutality, and includes panicked people discussing the police force’s use of  tear gas and shootings in the hospitals, causing the death of doctors and patients.

A majority of the footage for the documentary was used from firsthand filming from the events, and as a result, some of the images are choppy during the chaotic scenes. In my opinion, this does not take away from the film at all, and actually makes it feel more relatable as the audience sees the disarray of those involved.

By the end, one would find it very challenging not to feel for the Egyptian citizens and what they were going through in order to obtain their freedom. The large focus on just the three protesters allows for a more personal connection than if it had been an overview of the citizens in general. Overall, the film is inspiring, enlightening and worth watching.

There will be a screening of the documentary on Thursday, Feb. 13 in Quigley Hall for anyone interested in seeing it. It is a valuable opportunity for those interested in world affairs pertaining to Civil Rights.