Theeb (2014)

Original Title



Adventure | Drama


Naji Abu Nowar


Jordan | United Arab Emirates | Qatar | UK


Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat, Hussein Salameh Al-Sweilhiyeen, Hassan Mutlag Al-Maraiyeh, Jack Fox


During World War I, a young Bedouin boy (Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat) experiences a greatly hastened coming of age as he embarks on a perilous desert journey to guide a British officer (Jack Fox) to his secret destination.


As the night of the Oscar approaches, I'm trying to catch up on the films I've missed, and here I am, reviewing this beautiful little gem.

Feature length debut of Jordanian director Naji Abu Nowar, "Theeb" is a touching and thoughtful story of boyhood, manhood, survival and betrayal beautifully captured from start to finish.

We find ourselves in those same remote deserts that many years ago accommodated Lawrence of Arabia. Theeb's trip however is far less adventurous, and, unaware of the world and the men inhabiting it who do little good and a lot of bad, the young boy is forced to abandon childhood and he is catapulted into manhood.

With a simple, yet engaging and never boring story, and through the eyes of a boy, Naji Abu Nowar tells how war enters the nomadic life and upset the traditions, rules and balance of the people living in those lands.

Wolfgang Thaler's eloquent camerawork is fascinating and he captured the stunning scenery so beautifully that helps suggest emotional state. Not least is the extraordinary and hypnotic exotic musical score.

Nowar's decision to use non-actors in his debut was a bold move that eventually turned out to be absolutely spot-on. Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat portrays young Theeb wonderfully, and provides a sorrowfully expressive lead, and the affection for each other conveyed by him and Hussein Salameh Al-Sweilhiyeen (real-life cousin) is so intense that quickly wins you over. Hassan Mutlag Al-Maraiyeh does a fine job and he's menacing just enough as the ruthless Stranger.

If the wolves offer friendship, do not count on success. They will not stand beside you when you are facing death.


  1. This sounds like a very good film but, alas, none of these comes near my little hick city. I don't have Netflix either

  2. This sounds really interesting. I rarely get to see the Foreign nominees before the ceremony. Hopefully this one will show up on Netflix or something beforehand.

    1. I usually end up watching the Foreign nominees after as well, but this year I got lucky and I had the chance to see this.