Filmed in Yemen, The Oath tells the story of two men whose fateful encounter in 1996 set them on a course of events that led them to Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Well constructed documentary from Poitras looking at the aftermath for two men who were directly involved with Bin Laden. For one it meant trial and illegal incarceration for the other a changed viewpoint on how to battle his enemy and possibly teach a new generation a new way. One wonders if Abu Jandal is guilty of some self re-invention and self-grandeur here as well.
Compelling content, beautifully shot and edited - an impressive film right from the opening. And a much needed antidote to the usual War on Terror oversimplifications and rhetoric-fuelled hysteria. For a similarly personal and complex portrait of jihadism (and the blundering/dangerous US response) see The Father The Son and The Holy Jihad (2016).
Poitras sure knows where to go and where to point a camera in order to be of maximum use to us (!). Sometimes I take minor issue w/ the way she organizes her material. Not here. This one feels righteously rendered, though by virtue of an impressionist rather than a purely clinical set of artistic criteria (which might just be the same thing as saying the criteria are artistic). I liked feeling my way around this.
This was much more engaging than expected because it is a human story less than a political one. Yes, there are issues to ponder, but the director and producer successfully managed to create a snapshot of someone with strong moral values that were challenged in the vicissitudes of living in the modern world. Fascinating, compelling, sometimes repellent, but very real.
Muted portrait of two men (one of them by triangulation) involved in the life of Osama bin Laden and what has come of them. Ambiguous and thoughtful, this is a film disinterested in answers, but rather— how do two people living under American Empire find meaning? What does it move them towards?
Very compelling story telling through a confounding situation of the battle of ideology. The title compares three individuals who are bound by their oath, yet the film maker isn't bogged down in a philological pursuit but instead lets the complexities of each character unfold with unexpected returns. Definite watch if you are interested in contemporary global politics through a micro-view.