June, 1982 - The First Lebanon War. A lone tank and a infantry platoon are dispatched to search a hostile town - a simple mission that turns into a nightmare. The four members of a tank crew find themselves in a violent situation that they cannot handle. Motivated by fear and the basic instinct of survival, they desperately try not to lose themselves in the most emblematic act of uncivilized problem solving: war.Written by
Writer/director Samuel Maoz has created in his film LEBANON a statement about war we are not likely to forget. Based on his own experiences, this film about the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon in June of 1982 (the first Lebanon war) internalizes the responses of young soldiers sent on a mission that should have seemed simple but became anything but simple. The reason the film's message is so strong is that it forces four young, virginal soldiers in a tiny enclosed atmosphere where they must by proximity depend on each other to confront the whole question of the validity of war. It is exceptionally powerful.
A solitary army tank and a small platoon of paratroopers are sent to assure that a hostile Lebanese town bombed by the Israelis is secure. In the tank are four soldiers - Shmulik (Yoav Donat), Assi (Itay Tiran), Hertzel (the exceptionally handsome and brilliant Oshri Cohen), and Yigal (Michael Moshonov). They are not seasoned soldiers and what lies outside their protective tank is terrifying to them. Inside the tank is a claustrophobic, filthy, smoky, and foul smelling space where the four soldiers are able to view the effects of war and their tenuous grasp on reality through only the periscope of the tank. Occasionally the lid of the tank is opened to drop in a casualty along with a moment of fresh air to breathe, but basically these four men must grapple with the horrors of killing and destruction outside their tank. The aspects of human frailty that war exposes appear like autopsies on the minds and gradual mental deterioration that overtakes each of these vulnerable and emotionally unprepared young men. They may attempt humor but it is thwarted by the gore outside their iron shield of the tank where Lebanese soldiers attack and mothers suffer the loss of their children in the bombings and shootings of the little village. Maoz wisely places enough of the battle scenes outside the confines of the tank, making the audience as shocked by the atrocities of war as viewed from the exterior as the restricted glimpses of that war available to the tank crew.
This is most assuredly an anti-war film but rather than waving flags of attack and endless scenes of gore, Maoz keeps it distilled and in doing so makes it even more horrific. The cast is brilliant, delivering performances so well crafted that they linger in the minds eye long after the film is over. The haunting musical score is by Nicolas Becker and Benoît Delbecq and the almost impossible cinematography is by Giora Bejach . In Hebrew, Arabic, French and English with subtitles. Highly recommended.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this