An old school adventure movie set in the Jordan desert, about a young boy tasked with escorting a British officer to safety during the First World War
Eye-searing landscapes and a fascinating historical setting turn this tale of innocence lost into a classic adventure film. First-time director, Oxford-born, Jordan-based Naji Abu Nowar, calls it a ‘Bedouin western’, and the honour and hospitality which his nomadic tribespeople value above all else informs ‘Theeb’ first to last.
It’s the story of a British army officer at a desert encampment during WWI who orders young Bedouin boy Theeb (Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat) and his older brother Hussein (Hussein Salameh Al-Sweilhiyeen) to escort him on a perilous journey to the nearest waterhole. The events are seen from the child’s perspective, which might leave some viewers struggling to fill in the historical gaps (we’re in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ territory, with Arab tribes caught between the Brits and the Ottoman empire), but it does give the mounting peril even more heart-in-mouth intensity.
The largely non-professional cast are as authentic as the craggy, unforgiving surroundings, and the way the film balances the simplicity of its central rite of passage with a broader outlook on a people caught in the shifting sands of time is a tribute to the filmmakers’ clarity of vision. A truly memorable first feature.
Cast and crew
Hussein Salameh Al-Sweilhiyeen
Hassan Mutlag Al-Maraiyeh