Digital Story: Nablus

I picked a story from entitled “Nablus, A City of Life and Death.”  It was created by Mohammed Sawalha in conjunction with a number of Palestinian conflict resolution associations.  It is being used with youth programs to try and bring together both Israeli and Palestinian children.  It is a narrative about Palestinian occupation that is told by telling the story of a child’s death and what that has meant to his friends and community.  The child himself is not the subject so much as what his death inspires others to do.

Technically it is very good.  His voiceover is very clear and the background music is not too loud or intrusive.  The music is Middle Eastern music so sets the tone for the region it is about.  The cuts are not choppy and flow nicely.  He uses two special effects when telling about the death of the child and walls splitting, when he talks about the end of the occupation.  He uses a wealth of pictures of culture, the city, family, destruction and where military and civilian confines meet.  A few of the pictures he uses twice and I did not realize it until my second viewing, but it does not make the story seem redundant and helps enhance to story in some instances. 

Artistically, there is a great juxtaposition of the muted colors of the buildings and cities and the military versus the vibrant colors of the cultural clothing, the flag and the book bags of the children, which is an important symbol.  Another symbol we see more than once are doves.

It is a compelling peace as it makes us question the senseless death of the child.  No child should have to die walking home from school.  It is compelling the way the students honor the child’s memory. 

We do not get much political background information from the piece except that the Palestinians are occupied and they do not want to be.  He only mentions the Israelis by name once and that is when he describes how the boy died.  I think the story works as a tool to show unjust occupation as the child is killed.  It works as a motivational tool as the people use his death as inspiration to continue to defy the occupation and carry on their lives.  It is interesting as a peace tool as there are many confrontational images.  I think this works more as a motivational tool to want to end the occupation but the images I did not find quite powerful enough to want to end the occupation in peaceful means.  The one image of the blindfolded man comes close but not quite.  Or perhaps this is just my desensitized American media position.  Then again, no child should have to throw rocks at military tanks.  Not quite sold on that point.


Category: W2: Digital Story
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3 Responses
  1. meggleston says:

    I agree that this is an excellent digital story. My take-away from this is that symbolism can be a very powerful tool. The images of the empty chair in the classroom and doves in front of the tank tell us that many times, words are unnecessary.

  2. cwarburton says:

    This short is a great example of how symbols can be effectively used in digital stories. First, I love the Arabic greeting at the beginning and the end of the short—it helps set the tone of the story. I also love the “empty desk” theme. It creates tension and mystery, which compels the viewer to keep watching. Finally, the pictures in this video are amazing, especially the one with the birds in front of the tank. It echoes several of this week’s teachings (Educase, Storytelling Cookbook) that stress using pictures to symbolize abstract concepts. The only criticism I have is the video’s pace is too rapid…I wanted to keep looking at each picture when they would change. Overall, the story is effective in creating a tone, mood, and emotional impact, a key element in digital storytelling.

  3. jhubai says:

    Yes, the empty desk and dove images were what drew me to the piece.