The film Incendies is structured in a very particular way. There are loads of flashbacks and these memories switch real-time events with no transition. This structure mirrors traumatic memory as the protagonist of the film has to turn back to her horrific memories throughout her life. Nawal Marwan has to put all those memories together to solve the puzzle of her past.
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One of the major promises in the film is Nawal’s promise to find her son. She gave her promise to her newly born boy and she managed to keep it. Of course, it was a long path and Nawal kept her promise in a way she could never expect. She wrote two letters telling her son about the time they met (though, under horrible circumstances).
The film can be regarded as a very loose interpretation of the Greek tragedy Oedipus. However, the distinctive feature of the film is that the mother and her son do not live happily in marriage, but son is a rapist and a torturer of his own mother. They have children but the son does not know about their existence.
The film is drama and is characterised by such tool as peripeteia, in other words, a point of no return. It is possible to distinguish one of the points of no return at the beginning of the film when the young Nawal decides to escape with her beloved.
One of Nawal’s major desires was to break the chain of violence. She managed to break it when she finally found her son. She realised that her son lives in a peaceful country and lives a peaceful life. His children have escaped from the country where war and violence reigned. She also revealed the truth and broke the spell of violence based on lies and delusion.
The two letters also serve to break the chain of violence. The letter to her son tells him about her love and her search as well as the way she kept her promise. The letter to the father was a letter to a man who fathered to children who are beautiful unlike their father. Clearly, she had to write two letters as she had different feeling towards the two men.
Anagnorisis is the point in the film when the truth is discovered. Almost all major characters have these points. One of these points is the scene when Nawal’s son is reading her letters and discovering the truth.
One of the most meaningful scenes is the one where Nawal gives her promise to her newly born child. This promise is the reason why she had to endure loads of sorrows. The scene also emphasises that the most important things in the world are love and hope.
The last scene of the film is a logical ending as it manifests reconciliation of the man who was born of love. The man is contemplating while standing at his mother’s grave. There is a lot of love and hope in this scene as well.