Forbidden Lies

This above clip of Broinowski’s 2007 film, Forbidden Lies, begins with a cameo of two lovers on a number of dates, compiled in a style quite similar to the opening credits of a romantic sitcom (think Dharma And Greg or King of Queens. The sequence (played out by who represent Dalia, the protagonist in Norma Khouri’s novel Forbidden Love and Michael, Daria’s forbidden lover) is fittingly accompanied by a serenading theme song and a variety of superimposed sound effects that emphasise the affectionate mood the director has aimed to construct.

The pair picnic in a meadow as birds chirp in the distance; sitting outside a cafe, Michael smiles at Dalia and we here the “ting” of a percussion triangle as the sunlight reflects on his pearly whites; as Michael leaves the Salon where Dalia works he looks upon her dotingly and again, enter the chirping birds sounds. Back at the park, where the couple are transported to their picturesque convertible car via a visual “swirl” effect that is accompanied by Disney Fairy tale-esque musical crescendo, the sound of a roaring car engine and the tinkling sounds of wind chimes. Dalia then casts her cautions – in the form of a head scarf – to the wind and we hear supporting foley sounds as the scarf “swooshes” into the wind before falling dramatically on the floor as the lovers drive off into the distance. The cameo ends as a scene of Daria walking across a desert’s floor with foley to match her footsteps and the light sound of wind, is abruptly cut by the sound of a tape deck/tape recorder and Rana Husseini’s voice stating boldy “…This is not the truth”. This is followed by the sound of a book or perhaps a hand slamming down of a desk, as the figure that is Daria crumbles to sand accompanied by a loud, quick sound of blowing wind.

As the sound of birds chirping is quite clean and no other sounds can be heard over the theme music in the scene at the park, and as it is was repeated a number of times, it could be presumed that they were either recorded separately or sampled and then added to the clip in the post-production phase. It is possible that the sound of the roaring car engine were filmed on location – as these type of sounds are generally quite loud and once turned down in post-production, could still be audible over a sound track without other the atmospheric sounds being heard. However, would not be as likely for sounds of a scarf being thrown and falling to the ground, which leads me to believe that this was foley added in post as well. Finally, I would think that filming on a windy desert, the sound of the wind hitting the microphone would overpower most other sounds. This leads me to believe that the footstep sounds are foley, however, as the sounds of wind blowing are quite subtle it is possible that they were recorded on location but turned down in post-production. But again, it is likely that the less-subtle blowing wind sounds that accompany the image of Daria turning to sand are foley created by pushing fabric against or blowing against a microphone, then adding these sounds to the video track in post-production.

The next few scenes are dedicated to Husseini on her quest to prove the lie that is Norma Khouri’s novel Honor Lost. With the theme music now gone, Husseini is our sole focus and all following sound affects are in emphasis of her argument. “This book is not the truth about life in Jordan” she states as she holds up Khouri’s novel. The novel is then placed in full frame and the “ka-ching” sound of a cash register immediately ensues. Doing so creates an association between the story detailed in the novel being a lie and a money-making scheme (as is done in the title of the documentary Forbidden Lie$). Husseini establishes that she is a better authority on the topic of honor killings as she explains her acclaimed journalism background and history of researching the topic. This communicated in a voice over, as we follow her through the offices at the Jordan Times. The sounds of morning prayers subtly accompanying her voice serve to further assert to the audience that she is a local authority on the matter – again drawing on the power of association.

As the interviews continue, the familiar sounds of Disney wind chimes and chirping birds that were present in the “opening credits” featuring our two lovers are repeated. These as well as the other various sound effects that support the statements and arguments made serve mainly to draw out, exaggerate then deanimate the untruths noted in Khouri’s novel. At one point, Husseini, who has now been established as the expert, begins to read a paragraph from Khouri’s novel. Khouri’s voice is layered over it as she reads over the same lines simultaneously. However, although these were Khouri’s words originally, the layering of voices in this way delegitimises the writer, as her Western [read: outsider] accent is overpowered by Husseini’s thick Jourdanian [read: insider] accent. Further, Husseini’s statement on how Khouri’s book spoke of a unisex salon shop is followed by the sound of a rattling snake, emphasising that this information and it’s writer should not be trusted. Repeated sounds of a camera shutter followed by the slight pausing of the video on screen catch the viewers attention and alerts us to think twice. The remaining scenes of the clip are accompanied by similar sound effect and underscored by up-tempo, acoustic but somewhat traditional music as Husseini hurries about town unravelling the myths in Khouri’s book one-by-one. In this and all the above ways, the documentary shows it’s disinterest in total objectivity. While Husseini and Broinowski are indeed dispelling certain truths, they do it from a subjective stand point.


Broinowski, A 2007, Forbidden Lie$, Odin’s Eye Entertainment.


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