By Doug Brunell | June 27, 2003

I’m a big fan of the film “The Terrorist.” If you’ve seen it, you know that it provides a interesting insight into the minds of villains our current president would like you to believe have no souls. Phillip Montgomery’s “The Warrior and His Peace” takes a similar look at a terrorist, only this one is set to strike on 9/11 just after the buildings go down.
Tarek Moaz is Mujahid, a man who wakes up on that fateful morning to the sounds of sirens and people sobbing. He tunes into the news and sees a plane hit one of the towers, then he gets some alarming e-mails that notify him that it is his time to enter “Paradise.” His route? A bomb in Grand Central Station. A phone call from a father Mujahid believed to be dead and the police knocking on his apartment door drive this sleeper terrorist into a mental frenzy, and even he isn’t quite sure what he’ll do until the very last frame of the film. (Shades of the “The Terrorist.”)
Movies like this are daring and brave because they make us face some unpleasant notions. You see, watching films like this and “The Terrorist” forces viewers to realize that these people are just like you and me. They are human. They aren’t faceless people living in caves. They aren’t insane or depraved. They have strong beliefs, and they are willing to sacrifice themselves for them. In other words, it causes the more intellectual viewers to empathize with them, and in the current climate, that’s a risky thing for a movie to undertake.
This review has probably already turned off several people, but they wouldn’t understand this film anyway. They will think this movie is about having sympathy for terrorists. It’s not. It’s about understanding people … and that includes the kind of people who blow up buildings in order to further a political or religious cause. If that makes you uncomfortable, so be it. Nothing will ever change until we comprehend the mindset behind such actions and acknowledge that the people who commit these atrocities aren’t demons. They are us, and that can be the hardest thing to face.
“The Warrior and His Peace” is not going get the press it deserves, so tell people about this film. In the years to come, it may look more and more like a documentary and less like the fiction it claims to be.

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