Middle Eastern Film Festival: Bas Ya Bahar
May 6, 2013 - 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Bas Ya Bahar (1972), a film by Khalid Al-Siddiq
The first feature film to be made by the state of Kuwait. It is a period piece about Kuwait before the discovery of oil when fishing was the predominant occupation. Bay Ya Bahr is the story of a crippled pearl diver who forbids his son Mussaid to go to sea to dive for pearls. Mussaid’s father got the ‘bends’ after resurfacing too fast during a shark attack on his boat. However, the boy cannot see any other way to make enough money to mary Nura, his beloved. Nura is the daughter of a merchant who wants her to marry for money.
Finally, his father gives Mussaid permission to go to sea and even gives him his special black diving suit. Mussaid then works with the man to whom his father owes money. While Mussaid is away, Nura is forced by her family to marry a rich, older suitor. During his last dive Mussaid puts his hand inside a huge clam which closes on it. Mussaid is gasping for air and his friend has to amputate his arm in order to ‘rescue’ him. However Mussaid was dead long before he was brought to the boat. Nura meanwhile is raped by her husband on her wedding night. Mussaid’s best friend looks through his cache of oysters and gradually starts opening all of them. Finally when he gets to the last one he finds a huge pearl inside. Maybe Mussaid’s death will not be in vain if he can give this to Mussaid’s family. When the boat reaches Kuwait, Mussaid’s mother is welcomed by the dead body of her son and his prize – the pearl – for which he lost his life. The mother stares at the sea with unbridled rage and flings the pearl into it uttering the phrase: “Bas ya bahr” (enough oh sea)!