Review Of UFA – A Movie About War
“Colors of a Young Beirut” recreates the old souk’s lanes, snippets of Lebanese horse racing, and colorful, vibrant liveliness of the early 1960s in an animated way that captures the atmosphere of the old quarter. The animated backgrounds are rich with detail, but still retain the cartoonish quality of the times. The colors are bright and cheerful, and are contrasted by muted and solid black and white. This gives the impression of the marketplace as it really was, a colorful kaleidoscope of hues and colors that reflected the tensions and stresses of life in the old Lebanese city. It is a timely creation, with Beirut just needing a dose of this and maybe a little color therapy as well.
“Colours of a Young Beirut” recreates the cultural landscape of Beirut in three-dimensional animation. The vibrant colors of the city are interspersed with scenes from all over the city, including historical places, modern areas, and places with a different cultural or historic context. It includes Lebanese, abroad, and even foreigners characters. The cartoon starts on a rather typical situation: Two young men, dressed in sailor suits, board a restaurant called the L’Orient where they encounter assorted characters, one of whom is Lebanese. He introduces them to the colorful, loud, and comic world of Beirut in general, and to the sport of ufa, or “waffle fries.”
While traveling through the various sections of Beirut, they encounter such landmarks as the National Museum, the House of Congress, the Beirut University College, the General Teaching Hospital, the Bahnasser Mosque, the Karpas Street Hotel, the Hezbollah Intelligence Branch, the International Youth Associations, and the Association for the Studies of Culture and Learning (ASOCA). At the University of Beirut, they meet professor Youssef al-Rouqati, who introduces them to the term ufa. The word ufa means “fire hydrant,” and refers to a fountain that spouts water from its nozzle in various shapes and sizes. The blast of water is meant to symbolize fire, and to ward off evil.
After seeing so many sights, they wind up at the Hezbollah Intelligence Branch, where Youssef finds an old book entitled “The Great Beirut Burnout.” It chronicles the destruction and takeover of the old city by Hezbollah, which was followed by the Second Lebanon War. Al-Rouqati relates how Hezbollah emerged victorious from the onslaught, while noting the devastation in the old part of the city. The cartoon concludes with a look at the UFA quarter in the old part of the city, and the Hezbollah flag atop it. Finally, Youssef and Musa take a stroll in Dostoyevskogo Street, where they are confronted by Israeli commandos.
The characters witness the commandos’ first act of aggression against civilians, as a result of a car bomb planted by a Hezbollah operative. The Israeli commandos then kill the “cell” in a firefight outside the Museum. This is where the true conflict of the film begins. Although Hezbollah kills the Israeli commandos with minimal casualties, the war rages on. The Hezbollah resistance fighters are unable to defeat the Israeli army, and have no choice but to accept the terms of a UN Security Council resolution.
Overall, UFA is an interesting film that highlights some of the conflicts in the region. As Hezbollah and Israel struggle for control of the strip, and the United Nations Security Council tries to mediate between the two sides, the city becomes a virtual battlefield. Some of the battles are epic, while others are close to home, such as clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces that take place in the middle of the city. Overall, UFA is a film that strive to create tension, but does not reach its ultimate goal of highlighting one conflict in the area. It is, however, a very entertaining film that offers an insight into the complicated political situations in the Middle East today.