Four Lions (UK, 2010)

Four berks

In the current issue of Sight and Sound Chris Morris explains:

‘A bomb goes off. We tear about like headless chickens. Our dread infests the fabric. We change our laws. We restrict our freedoms. We lash out at strangers. Brilliant. Of course we long to laugh at our fears, but we don’t know how. Where’s the joke? Actually, ‘Four Lions’ demonstrates it’s staring you right in the face. At training camps young jihadis argue about honey, shoot each other’s (sic) feet off and chase snakes. A minute into his martyrdom video, a would-be bomber asks the cameraman, “What was that question again?” Terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohamed spends two hours looking for a costume that won’t make him look fat on camera. And when 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta was teased for pissing too loudly, he blamed the Jews form making the thin doors.

‘In three years of research, I have spoken to terrorism experts, imams, police, secret services and hundreds of Muslims. Even those who have fought jihad report the frequency of farce. On millennium eve, five jihadis planned to ram a US warship with a launch full of bombs. In the dead of night they slipped their boat into the water. They stacked it with explosives. They stepped in. It sank.

‘Terrorist cells have the same group dynamics as stag parties and five-a-side football teams. There is conflict, friendship, misunderstanding and rivalry. Terrorism is about ideology, but it’s also about berks.’

It’s no surprise that Morris should cast a berk’s eye view on the world as he’s always thrived on doing so. Four Lions is a brilliant comedy on the absurdity of both jihad and the ‘war on terror’. It doesn’t look at the causes of either but shows the effect of being in a world where western imperialism resisted by eastern religion. So don’t go and see this film for analysis, go for the (often uncomfortable) laughs. It portrays British Muslims as everyday (if not quite normal) people and, I think, wins our sympathies for them; they are, after all, just everyday berks (as we all often are).

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One Response

  1. The writer manages something special in this film, to not make it offensive to the entire Muslim population but instead clearly, through the use of comedy, that these are just a few idiotic people with strong ideas and not necessarily representative of the entire religion. This is achieved in part by the amount of research that has clearly been carried out.

    I like how also the film humanizes these characters, but not to a point where anybody believes what they are doing is a good thing. Comedy has been used many times in the past to portray a serious message, Chaplin’s Great Dictator being an earlier example and this film uses it quite effectively. And unlike many of the generic comedies out in the cinemas today this is genuinely quite funny.

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