EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|LEBANON (LEVANON) (director/writer: Samuel Maoz; cinematographer: Giora Bejach; editor: Arik Lahav-Leibovich; music: Nicolas Becker; cast: Yoav Donat (Shmulik), Itay Tiran (Assi), Oshri Cohen (Hertzel), Michael Moshonov (Yigal), Zohar Strauss (Jamil), Dudu Tassa (Syrian Captive), Ashraf Barhom (Phalangist Mother), Reymonde Amsellem (Lebanese Mother); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Uri Sabag/Einat Bikel/Moshe Edery/ Leon Edery/David Silber/Benjamina Mirnik/Ilann Girard; Sony Picture Classics; 2009-Israel/France/Germany/UK-in Hebrew and Arabic-with English subtitles)|
claustrophobic and frightful
depiction of war's insanity."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Samuel Maoz's first
feature is an impressive claustrophobic and frightful
war's insanity, a film made by a traumatized
veteran of the Lebanon war who was part of a tank crew
made up of
apolitical and scared conscripts who only wanted to go
home and did not
understand why they were fighting. Maoz restages his
from the First
Lebanon War -
June, 1982, Israel's fifth and most disputed war since
beginning in 1948. The pic emulates the claustrophobia of the West German submarine
pic Das Boot
(1981) and is filmed in the no-nonsense way Sam Fuller
beloved grunts in action. It's
a 24-hour period, and filmed almost entirely inside an
heading north on the
war's first day. The mission has a lone tank and 12
paratroopers on the
to search in
a mop up action a hostile Lebanese town that has
already been bombarded...
by the Israeli Air Force. The IDF soldiers in the tank
inexperienced argumentative twentysomethings: Shmulik the
Dona), Assi the commander (Itay
Cohen) and Yigal the driver (Michael Moshonov).
commander is a major, Jamil (Zohar
an experienced veteran giving orders by radio to the
tank and when
necessary entering the tank to clear-up any problems.
The tank is given
the code name Rhino.
The trembling gunner,
representing the filmmaker, can’t pull the
trigger on a car full of enemies, and an Israeli
paratrooper dies as a
result. A few moments later, the guilt-stricken gunner
fires at an innocent farmer and his truck full of
chickens. The dead
Israeli soldier, called an angel, is placed in the
tank and in their
next urban destination is returned home by helicopter.
orders the tank to go north to a place given the
fictionalized name of
St. -Tropez and tells the boys it's 'a walk in the
park' from hereon.
Awaiting further orders in the center of an unnamed
town, stopping by a
travel agency with posters of the Eiffel Tower, Big
Ben and the World
Trade Center, the tank crew become anxious when their
tank is fired
upon by the enemy. After the battle the inept driver
not knowing how
to read the dials, thinks the tank is dead and panics.
Jamil has to
show him how
to start it, as the tank crew also panics--afraid of
being left behind.
Also, a captured Syrian
prisoner is placed in the tank. Jamil allows a Phalangist, Israel's war
ally, to interview
the prisoner and have the two Phalangists act as a guide
for the tank as
they drive a car ahead to their final destination. But
the thuggish Phalangist
to be unreliable. He agitates
the captive by telling him they aim to torture him
when he's released
from the tank, and the Syrian goes berserk before
drugged. Later the
lost and stuck in a hostile urban zone, but is ordered
out of that spot
to push on to the rendezvous destination and does so
blindly on its own
(with the tank a metaphor for Israel). The most
controversial part of
the film, especially for Israelis, is the breakdown by
openly bawls and says "I want to go home. I want my
Golden Lion at Venice. Though lacking in dramatic
haunting war images as seen through the cross-hairs of
bomb-sight leaves behind a clear vision that war
machines. It serves as a reminder that
war is not a pretty sight and puts everyone to the
test of acting human
at a time of grave danger and chaos.
REVIEWED ON 3/29/2011 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ