There are many different angles of approach to storytelling in a documentary. Some directors opt for style over substance, whilst others indulge in a one-sided polemic. In The Green Prince, director Nadav Schirman made the decision to recount events from two different perspectives. Based on Mosab Hassan Yousef’s autobiography, this choice makes it feel more like a thriller than a historical reconstruction.
Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of a Hamas leader, Sheikh Hassan Yousef. After being arrested and beaten as a teenager he is persuaded to work as a spy for the Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency. He acts as an often reluctant spy for ten years. Initially his plan is to become a double-agent but Mosab gradually becomes intoxicated by his status, ultimately saving the lives of numerous people, including his father.
Apart from a fascinating and often incredible story, what makes The Green Prince such an captivating paranoid thriller is the relationship between Mosab and his Shin Bet handler Gonen Ben Yitzhak. They form an uneasy bond over time. There are many questions left unanswered, but the response to later events after Mosab terminated his role would indicate the veracity of his account.
The Green Prince is released on DVD by Artificial Eye today.