by Helen Earnshaw |
If you are not in the mood for blockbuster Robin Hood this weekend then Lebanon may be a film that's of interest to you.
Directed by Samuel Maoz it's the latest picture to depict the Israeli war of the eighties, which saw Israel invade Lebanon.
So to celebrate the release of the film we take a look at some of the best Israeli war movies, and there have been some great ones over the years.
June, 1982. A lone tank is dispatched to search a hostile town that has already been bombarded by the Israeli Air Force. What seems to be a simple mission gradually spins out of control.
Shmuel the gunner, Assi the commander, Herzl the loader and Yigal the driver are the tank’s crew, four 20-something boys who have never fought in a war and are now operating a killing machine.
Though trying to remain brave, the boys are pushed to their mental limits as they struggle to survive in a situation they cannot contain, and try not to lose their humanity in the chaos of war.
The movie has the personal touch from filmmaker Maoz as he draws on his own experience and memories of serving in the Israeli army at the age of twenty.
He brings the claustrophobia and fear of the inside of the tank to the big screen as the movie's action is restricted to that confined space.
Waltz With Bashir
Ari Folman's movie Waltz with Bashir was one of the best movies of 2008 as it grabbed everyone's attention when it played at the Cannes Film Festival.
In 1982, Folman was a soldier during Israel's first invasion of Lebanon. This was a painful moment in history, when the newly elected president of Lebanon, Bashir Gemayel, was killed in an explosion.
Furious, his party, the Christian Phalangists, retaliated by storming into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps and massacring thousands of innocent victims.
Over 20 years later, Folman is disturbed to realize that he has no memory of this incident even though he was there at the time.
Waltz with Bashir is truly a beautiful and moving movie as Folman delves deep into his troubled past as he desperately tries to remember the events that have eluded him for two decades.
It is one of the best war movies that has ever been committed to film, and it backs an even greater punch given the current unrest in the Middle East.
It's also one of the most unique movies that you will have the pleasure of clapping your eyes on and the imagery will stay with you long after the credits have rolled, the final images were animation becomes reality are incredibly powerful.
Close To Home
Vardit Bilu and Dalia Hagar took a very different look at this genre of movie with their 2007 picture Close To Home, which looked at women in the Israeli army.
Life as a teenage girl in Israel isn't easy. Just ask Smadar (Sayar) and Mirit (Schendar), two 18-year-olds who spend their workdays wearing fatigues as officers in the Israeli Army.
Smadar is a rebellious type who clearly has issues letting people get close to her. Meanwhile, Mirit is as by-the-book as they come.
When they're paired together to patrol the streets of Jerusalem and perform random I.D. searches on those who look suspicious (i.e., any and all Arabs), it looks like they're never going to get along.
Gradually, they begin to warm up to each other, and a sisterly bond develops. But ultimately the strain of trying to balance personal issues with the stress of being soldiers causes them to rethink their friendship forever.
Close to Home is perhaps quite a controversial movie as the filmmakers look at the challenges faced by these women as they take on military duty during their teenage years.
With excellent performances from Smadar Sayar and Naama Schendar it's a stand out film in this genre.
Beaufort is another movie that was directed by a former soldier as Lebanon War veteran Joseph Cedar brought Ron Leshem's novel to the big screen.
Lebanon in the year 2000. Not far from the old seafarer's fortress, Beaufort, is a military base with the same name kept by the Israeli army. This heavily guarded post has been here since the war in Lebanon in 1982.
It is a symbol not only of Israel's most controversial campaign for military control of Lebanon, but also of a sacrificial struggle during which many soldiers lost their lives. The Israeli troops move out of Lebanon, leaving behind their base at Beaufort.
On the evening of May 24th, the base is destroyed, blown up by thousands of mines. The powerful explosion marks the end of 18 years of Israeli occupation. The film tells the story of Liraz Liberti, the 22-year-old commander of Beaufort, and his troops during the last few months prior to their withdrawal.
The harrowing movie was a hit with the critics and went on to pick up the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2007.
Amos Gitai takes a different look at this period in Israel and Lebanon's history looking at he soldiers rather than the war itself.
In 1973, on the Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur, the Arab nations launched a massive military assault on the state of Israel.
Kippur follows the paths of two Israeli soldiers as they face the chaos and carnage of battle. Weinraub (Leron Levo) is a sensitive, artistic sort while his friend Ruso (Tomer Ruso), who is much more gung-ho, are head off to battle.
In the pandemonium at the front, the two fail to find their unit, and end up joining an airborne rescue unit
Lebanon is released 14th May
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw