“Fragments of Heaven”, Between Faith and Science

“Fragments of Heaven”, Between Faith and Science

Featured in competition tonight at Sun Moon Dok Film Festival Fragments of Heaven (2022) by Adnan Baraka Which we were pleased to see in al roma Med Film Festivalis a documentary that closely follows the visual and audio visions of Werner Herzog, albeit in a less extreme style; It is a work that takes advantage of the dry, endless Moroccan landscape and the dualities already mentioned in the title.

skyDocumentary summary

The Moroccan Sahara is famous for the frequent meteorites that fall to Earth. Mohammed is a Bedouin herder who lives with his family in a tent in a remote area in the east. To improve the difficult living conditions of his loved ones, he decided to search for meteorites.

Also working in the same field is Abd al-Rahman, a scientist who relies on these wrecks to continue his research on the origins of Earth and life. Neither of them imagined that this mission would lead them to discover that bits of human complexity are hidden behind these things.

Fragments of Heavenstalking in the desert

Vast and desolate landscapes. Places that look similar to lunar ones, are strewn with rocks and almost absent of vegetation. The residents who live there struggle to survive and are forced to walk long distances in search of what they need.

Harnessed to protect themselves from the driving winds and dust, they scavenge for precious metals, often mistaking simple stones for metal fragments. They are almost astronauts scouring these lands looking for alien clues to bring them back to base.

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exit Adnan Baraka He follows them, often photographing them from behind. But the shading is also exposed in relation to Abdel Rahman’s research, which scrutinizes the movement of stars and meteor fragments.

A documentary that, paradoxically, carries within itself a sense of displacement, being a work produced in 2014. Since then, it has traveled to festivals and is still moving, the passage of time has not affected its meaning.

Fragments of HeavenScientific and religious dualities in the documentary

The documentary revolves around two people: Muhammad, a shepherd and indigenous man, and Abd al-Rahman, a miner and scientist. Two opposite personalities associated with the search for minerals and pieces of meteorites. They live off this search, but in two different ways. For Muhammad, meteorites are a gift from heaven, which can allow him an easy and generous profit, while for Abd al-Rahman they are precious objects that can allow him to understand life.

On the one hand, a visualization of a miracle, and on the other, a scientific vision. And the title combines these two concepts together, because “fragments” is a very technical and logical term, associated with matter, while Paradiso refers to religious beliefs, and specifically to divine benevolence.

A search that is also done with different tools: Muhammad and the other shepherds search for the stones with their hands, touching them in the hope that they are the right ones. As for the scientist Abdel-Rahman, on the other hand, in using the technological metal detector, which already allows him to respond immediately.

But we should not forget that Morocco, on which abundant fragments of meteorites fall, is one of the countries for which Islam is the main cult. Religion, among whose relics there is the Black Stone preserved in Mecca (Saudi Arabia), and it is believed that it is a stone that God cast directly from heaven on earth, or a meteorite that fell from heaven to wash away human sins.

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But duality also resides in the comparison between the private and the vast. A microscope is for landscapes, where these humans are just small fragments compared to the greatness of creation, and a microscope is for observations of existing materials, small fragments that make up larger ones.

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