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Sonia Nettnin Film Review: The Eternal Dance

Film Review: The Eternal Dance

By Sonia Nettnin

Said gazes into Faten's eyes. His heart burns with desire for his desert rose. Is Faten real or a figment of Said's imagination? Real or not, she takes his breath away (Photo courtesy of CPFF).

Director Hiam Abbass’ “The Eternal Dance” is an intimate, cinematic portrait about the pain of letting someone go; and the desperate pleas of the surviving spouse to retain the relationship.

Said Tabari speaks to his wife, Faten, who lies comatose in a Paris hospital bed. Faten is Said’s desert rose.

“My heart is ready to serve you,” he whispers inn her ear.

Despite the forlorn reality that Said will lose Faten (whose name means captivating), he talks as if they will return home together. If he loses her, then he loses himself; and life without his companion is a life without meaning.

In bed, Said stares at the lingerie he purchased for her. He writes in his notepad: “Your face is more radiant that the roses in the garden / Your embrace is my greatest joy.”

However, his daughter, Hala (whose name means aureole), has a heart-to-heart with her father. While they stroll along the Seine, she tells him to face the facts.

The cross-cultural marriage between a French man and Hala unravels as an issue for Said when he reads a bedtime story to his granddaughter Mena. He speaks to her in Arabic, yet Mena insists she is French.

For Said, the loss of his wife means a severance with a major lifeline: himself. Faten is his heart and home is where the heart is so the thought of her absence is not only unbearable but impossible.

After Faten dies, Said seeks refuge in their apartment. During his heart-wrenching monolog, he clutches a pillow. Gasps for breath. His only cure is her return.

As a captive to her love Said’s emotional despair is so torturous it evokes a figment of Faten, alive and well.

They sway to the music and her hands fondle him to the rhythm of their passionate, lifelong affection . . . their breathtaking, eternal dance.


Director: Hiam Abbass
Producer: Florence Aufret
Script: Helene Chevre
Year: 2003
Country of Production: France
Time: 26 minutes


Sonia Nettnin is a freelance writer. Her articles and reviews demonstrate civic journalism, with a focus on international social, economic, humanitarian, gender, and political issues. Media coverage of conflicts from these perspectives develops awareness in public opinion.

Nettnin received her bachelor's degree in English literature and writing. She did master's work in journalism. Moreover, Nettnin approaches her writing from a working woman's perspective, since working began for her at an early age.

She is a poet, a violinist and she studied professional dance. As a writer, the arts are an integral part of her sensibility. Her work has been published in the Palestine Chronicle, Scoop Media and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She lives in Chicago.

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