I don’t know if you can call <a href="http://www.captainaburaed.com/"target="_blank"
"Captain Abu Raed" a family movie. It certainly celebrates the idea of knitting together an untraditional family of sorts. But it has subtitles because it was made in Jordan. And it has a somewhat sad, some might think predictable, end. So it’s not exactly a Middle Eastern version of a Disney movie. Yet this film was a a hit at film festivals around the world last year including the Heartland Film Festival and was Jordan’s first ever entry into the Oscar race for Best Foreign FIlm. With so much acclaim, it is difficult to understand why it has taken so long to be released to DVD, but for it’s own unique portrayal of courage and self-scarifice, “Captain Abu Raed” is my DVD pick of the week.
Abu Raed is a lonely man who has suffered a series of losses and now works in the airport in Amman, Jordan as a janitor. He becomes a hero to a group of impoverished children in his neighborhood when he begins to captivate them with stories of adventure based on a fictional career as a pilot. As his live becomes more emeshed with the lives of the children and one of the children finds out he is not who he says he is, Abu Raed ends up taking some drastic measures to help change the lives of one child forever.
For all of its melodramatic, perhaps maudlin moments, it is still difficult for me to say why this movie lingers after watching. Part of it has to do with the exotic locale which gives us a rare glimpse of life in Jordan, I am sure. Part of it has to do with the strong portrayal of women in the film through the character of Nour, an unlikely ally for Abu Raed. So while this is an old tale dressed up in a new setting, I believe that it doesn’t make it any less chaming and inspiring.