The Green Prince Blu-ray Review
With all of the talk of ISIS these days, many may not remember that there are other terrorist groups out there in the world. One of them is Hamas. Though, to be fair, the terroristic part of the group is the military end. There is another group of members that want the same thing, the liberation of Palestine, but do agree with obtaining this through violence. I didn’t want to seem like I was painting the group with too broad of a brush. One of the founders of Hamas three decades ago was Sheikh Hassan Yousef. Trusting very few people around him, the Sheikh made his son, Mosab, his right hand man. If you went for a ride, Mosab was driving. If you wanted to talk to the Sheikh, you called Mosab’s phone first and talked to him. Mosab was raised to hate Israel and all it stands for. However, after an arrest during a gun smuggle gone bad, Mosab gets a look at the other side. He is eventually recruited and turned by members of Shin Bet – a secret Israeli agency, to spy on his father and his friends and report to Israel. And what he reports is amazing.
What is most amazing about a documentary like THE GREEN PRINCE (the title comes from the code-name given to Mosab Hassan Yousef by his Shin Bet counterpart), is that we are given both sides of the story by the two people that were there: Mosab Hassan Yousef and his Shin Bet handler, Gonen Ben-Yitzhak. Together (even though they aren’t – Youself currently lives in the United States while Ben-Yitzhak still resides in Israel), they keep each other honest. I liken it to the scene in BOOGIE NIGHTS during Amber’s documentary on Dirk Digler. Dirk looks into the camera and talks about how his director lets him block his own sex scenes. We next cut to the director, who clearly states, “I don’t let him block his own sex scenes.” If one is not honest or forthcoming about an incident the other is there to check them or gently remind them of the truth. Because of this the film plays out like a great spy novel told in alternating voices and chapters, making you want to turn the next page to see what happens next.
While the story itself is engrossing, the archival footage used is amazing. Surveillance video shot from satellites is amazingly clear (though some appears to have been “created” for the film). When Mosab talks about meeting Ben-Yitzhak on a lonely road and describes what he did, it’s almost eerie to see the scene take place as they speak. It’s also amazing to see the inner workings of Shin Bet. They gather so much information but analytically break it down to see what their response should be. Sometimes it means violent retribution. Other times it means doing nothing. All for the good of the only land most of them have even known as home. What is most amazing is that, because of their associations with each other, Mosab and Gonen, two men who were literally born enemies, have become friends.
Video: Presented in its original 1:85.1 aspect ratio, the film is cleanly presented. Some archival footage is rough and the interviews between the two principals appear to have been set up “matter of factly.”
Audio: Available in both DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, the sound quality is fine in either mode.
Bring Your Own Doc: The Green Prince (29:20): An in-depth interview with the film’s director, Nadav Schirman.
“Son of Hamas” Israeli News Segment (7:11): An old news story from Israeli television highlighting Mosab’s story.
Bonus Interview Extracts (9:34): More from the interview with director Schirman.