Diane is a young, promiscuous trainee stockbroker, who leads a life that is not unhappy, but is rather empty of meaningful human connection. This is shown in her flippancy towards her friend's upcoming wedding, and her lack of a relationship with her mother.
She receives a sunflower with a blank card, but soon forgets about it. She discovers another blank card in her bag, which she left in the church during her friend's wedding ceremony. After missing the ferry to the reception, she is offered a lift by a friendly seaman in his tug boat. He gives her drugged tea, however, and she wakes up in a strange harem, surrounded by Arabic women and children.
What follows is a brief mental breakdown after wandering in the desert, and being found by the sheikh's falcon. She eventually accepts her fate, and when she does finally meet the sheikh, Salim, she realises he has been watching her for some time, and that she has no real qualms about sleeping with him. He does not share her cavalier attitude towards sex, however. He is a man who is trying to reconcile his Arabic roots with his need to embrace the Western World. This is a complex desire, and his relationship with Diane is equally complex, for it is based upon obsessive love on his side, and conflicting emotions of love and loneliness on hers.
This film has beautiful cinematography, and a hauntingly lovely Middle Eastern themed score. The two go hand in hand to create a film which is atmospheric and lasting in ones memory.
The performances of Ben Kingsley as Salim and Nastassja Kinski as Diane, are both very powerful and subtle. Some have said that Ben Kingsley comes off as dull, but I can not disagree more. He conveys every emotion with his usual subtle brilliance. It is not necessary for him to try and convey his emotions with excessive energy. This is a man who is silently torn by his loyalty to his culture and responsibilities, and his desire for what he knows is unobtainable for a man in his position. Nastassja Kinski gives one of her best performances, and shows Diane's slow emotional maturity, and gradual acceptance and understanding of both herself and Salim. Their chemistry is excellent, because it is genuine and natural. It is sensual and languid, much like the film itself, which is why most people would not enjoy it.
This film requires a large amount of patience in order to truly appreciate its development. It is also not for those who wish to have conclusive answers at the end of the film. The film requires an audience or viewer who is content to interpret its ending as they will. The film's ending while tragic and open, is the only one that it could realistically have.
Harem is very much in the same vein as 9 1/2 Weeks and Wild Orchard, with its distinctive mood and non-linear plot. It does not have the hectic sex scenes of these films, but it has the same sort of message: the examination of loneliness, the realisation of a quiet kind of melancholy which can rule ones life without one realising it, and finally the discovery of another person who is also lonely and unaware of their melancholic existence. Whether or not the connection with this other person is lasting, positive or destructive remains to be seen.
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A young American woman is kidnapped by an Arabian sheik who holds her captive in his harem. At first, she frantically tries to escape, but as they slowly get to know and appreciate each other, the difference between captor and captive dissolves.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
October 25, 2022 at 05:47 AM