Review: The Oath DVD

STUDIO: Zeitgeist | DIRECTOR: Laura Poitras
RELEASE DATE: 9/28/10 | PRICE: DVD $29.99
BONUSES: extended interview with Abu Jandal, additional footage, director’s statement
SPECS: NR | 96 min. | Documentary | 1.85:1 widescreen | stereo | English and Arabic with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

An official selection at the Berlin Film Festival and winner of the Excellence in Cinematography Award at Sundance, The Oath follows the stories of two men: Abu Jandal, the former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, and his brother-in-law Salim Hamdan, bin Laden’s personal driver.

A Guantanamo Bay prisoner, Hamdan was the first detainee to be tried in a military tribunal. This landmark case captured the attention of the Western media, but this documentary manages to get an intimate look at those involved, particularly Jandal, who believes that Hamdan is completely innocent and blames himself for getting his brother-in-law in trouble.

Director Laura Poitras (who helmed the 2005 Oscar-nominated documentary My Country, My Country) gives the viewer insight into how some members of Al-Queda feel about the West, particularly America, and it isn’t pretty.

At the same time, the film does elicit sympathy for Hamdan, who earned $200 a month as bin Laden’s driver to support his two daughters and wife. In the end, Hamdan served his time and was released in 2009. But The Oath , which aired on Public Broadcasting’s POV, doesn’t leave you with the feeling that anything has been resolved.

Supplemental materials for the DVD include an extended interview with Jandal.


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About Cheryl

Cheryl Cheng reviewed DVD and Blu-ray titles for Video Business magazine and has a special place in her heart for foreign and independent films.