My first blog in a long, long time. My wonderful girlfriend keeps pushing me to write more and on this cold March morning, sat in my comic book strip boxers, I feel the time is right. But what to write about…
Four Lions is a movie with an interesting parallel to the theme predominant in my last blog, “Blood, Guts and Saw”. In that blog, I criticised the SAW franchise for offending the senses and ultimately argued it needs to be censored. The benefit of not writing a blog for so long, is being able to look back on my state of mind all that time ago. Do I stand by what I wrote? Yes. I suppose in principle I do, but Four Lions (Christopher Morris), offers another flavour to the argument.
Four Lions in sum, is a film about four terrorists, each uniquely stupid in their own way, trying to blow up the London marathon. It is a comedy, and personally I found it hilarious. The idea of taking on something so sensitive and making one sympathise with the bombers and also laugh out loud at their idiocy is an incredible feat. If anything, it reminds me of In Bruges (the film no one has ever seen, but should), in terms of tone and comedy streak. Again, the protagonist is a “bad person”, or stereotypically, should be viewed in reality as a “bad person”, but as in Four Lions, In Bruges is intelligent enough to allow a peep through the misty stereotypes and see perhaps what is more true: moral greyness. “Only a Sith deals in absolutes”, Obi Wan says, and that is be true of the ignorant. The world is not a simple place, and both Four Lions and In Bruges, demonstrate its complexities.
Going back to my original comparison however, I know for a fact that my Pakistani friend Ali, would have a slightly different outlook on Four Lions. He always had slightly different opinions when it came to events in the Middle East which is totally understandable. But would he see the film as perpetuating the Muslim bomber stereotype, or would he see it as I do – an hilarious take on a serious issue. I think in the end it all comes down to empathy; understanding the feelings of others. The reality is this: someone who has lost someone to a terrorist act, or someone who might have been persecuted for being Arab is going to struggle to empathise with either the characters in the Four Lions, or empathise with what the film is trying to achieve. It has always been very British to laugh in the face of adversity, I think Four Lions is a very British film, and a film that ultimately speaks to me as a Britain indoctrinated by his own culture.
The actual terrorist act is hidden from perspective in most of Four Lions; it is far to complex an issue to tackle head on. It is an extremely fine line, and for me, Four Lions walks it with terrifying balance. Even I can’t help feeling a little uncomfortable at points during the film where the edge of stereotypes becomes ever so slightly sharpened. But in the main, in my opinion, Four Lions is intelligent, sensitive and a double edged sword.