Suleiman's The Time That Remains: A Semi-Autobiographical Film

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Elia Suleiman's The Time That Remains is a semi-autobiographical film that explores the relationship Palestinians have with the state of Israel, and how the course of history affected Suleiman's own family. The film primarily uses visual, spatial, and temporal techniques to explore its central ideas, rather than an emphasis on dialogue and exposition. Specifically, absurdity, repetition, and hyperbole are key to the film's storytelling and message. In its first scene, The Time That Remains establishes the act of looking as a crucial element of the film's humor and drama. In the prologue, an Israeli cab driver transports a fictionalized version of the film's own director, Elia Suleiman, to an airport. This scene's framing is a visual metaphor for the dynamic between Palestinians and the Israeli state. Suleiman, who is Palestinian, is blurry and out of focus, while the Israeli cab driver is clearly visible in the foreground. The Palestinian literally takes the back seat, while the Israeli driver controls Suleiman's journey. Suleiman sits in complete silence, observing the driver. For the rest of the film,…show more content…
In one scene, doctors rush a patient into a hospital hallway, and Israeli soldiers chase the doctors, trying to take the patient for themselves. The situation quickly turns into an absurd tug of war, with the doctors and soldiers repeatedly chasing each other back and forth down the hallway. Eventually the doctors and soldiers both arrive at the center of the hallway, and the struggle for the gurney becomes a melee. While the slapstick comedy of this scene is amusing, it is also poignant, as the ailing patient can be seen as a metaphor for how the two groups try to inhabit the same space, but have difficulty coexisting peacefully. A distrust exists between the doctors and soldiers just as a distrust exists between the Israeli state and Palestinian
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