Starting this week in theaters, you can watch the twice Golden Globe-nominated drama The Mauritanian. This is a story about a real man suspected of terrorism who, without trial or investigation, ended up in prison in Guantanamo. In the film, Jodie Foster plays a lawyer who defends the rights of a prisoner, and Benedict Cumberbatch plays the role of a military attorney who prepares a death penalty case.
The events of the film take place after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. At a time when the Americans were recovering from the tragedy that had occurred, the US government launched a series of covert operations to detain persons suspected of organizing or carrying out acts of terrorism.
The prisoners were transported to Cuba, where the US military base was located in Guantanamo Bay. The place where dangerous criminals were kept is known as the Guantanamo prison – this name has become associated with the use of torture, as well as with numerous human rights violations. The situation around the prison caused more and more discussions when it turned out that no significant evidence had been collected to prove the guilt of some of the prisoners. (By the way, the film The Road to Guantanamo , released in 2006, was also dedicated to this topic .)
The script for the British-American film The Mauritanian was based on the memoir of a man named Mohamedou Ould Slahi. He is a native of Mauritania who went to live in Germany on a scholarship to study engineering. There Slakhi was not given a residence permit, so he returned to his homeland. After the events of 9/11, the CIA, with the help of local police, placed him in custody, after which Mohamed was secretly transferred to Guantanamo. As it turned out, he was suspected of having links with al-Qaeda, as well as recruiting Hamburg to commit a terrorist attack.
Memoirs were not the only documentary source for making the film. Two additional lines were also added to the script, which play an extremely important role in the development of the story. They are based on the actions of lawyer Nancy Holander (played by Jodie Foster), as well as on the accusations of military attorney Stuart Coach (Benedict Cumberbatch) – both characters are written off from real people whose actions influenced how the world learned about the high-profile case of the Mauritanian.
Due to the abundance of details and facts, the film “Mauritanian” may at first seem like a boring lawyer’s drama, but the final perception of the tape will be different. The picture is based on general data, gradually revealing the state of a person who was taken into custody without charge. The unlawful imprisonment attracts the attention of the character Jodie Foster: the actress plays an unwavering advocate of the law, a firm believer in the integrity of the person and the presumption of innocence.
To imagine only that after the 9/11 terrorist attack someone dared to take up the defense of a criminal who may well turn out to be a real terrorist – this decision literally borders on insanity. But the real Nancy Holander did just that, and Jodie Foster convincingly conveyed her character’s principled determination (for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Supporting Actress category).
But the character of Benedict Cumberbatch, guided by morality and personal loss, is determined to bring the charge to death. At first, he secretly introduces everyone who wants justice, but over time, he notices gaps in his investigation. The testimony that he needs for the trial is either absent or covered by the seal of secrecy.
The filmmakers are in no hurry to reveal what exactly the US authorities were hiding by censoring reports detailing the interrogations of Mohamed Ould Slahi. We come to this moment gradually, hardly doubting the innocence of the prisoner, and seeing how he reveals himself to his lawyer (Slahi passed letters, telling details about the imprisonment). Word by word, he opens his story, which we see in the format of square frames, clearly separating events from the past and the present.
At any time, the calm play of Tahar Rahim speaks most of all about the character of Slahi, who does not rush to extremes and slowly draws a portrait of a weary prisoner (Rahim was nominated for a Golden Globe in the category of best actor in a dramatic film).
It is quite noticeable that the creators of the “Mauritanian” sympathize with their hero, so at a certain moment they insert real frames with a smiling Mohamed Ould Slahi, supplementing them with information about how his imprisonment ended. The undisguised favor for the protagonist looks like a public apology for war crimes, brought not by politicians, but by filmmakers. This can be treated in different ways, but based on the viewer’s experience, this is the format of the film adaptation of a real story, which remains in memory thanks to the final scenes.
The Mauritanian adaptation of the real story of a prisoner who ended up in a secret prison. The film apologizes for the mistakes of the military and says that everyone has the right to trial.