Israel: A Home Movie
Film Review by Kam Williams
Most people’s general impressions of Israel come as a result of watching news stories prepared by professional journalists. If you’re interested in getting a more intimate feeling of the country untainted by politics, you might want to check out this documentary by Eliav Lilti.
The movie is basically a collage of home movies shot by amateur shutterbugs on Super 8 film between the Thirties and the Seventies. Besides reminding us of mundane fare like birthdays and bar mitzvahs, it covers subject-matter ranging from euphoric Romanian refugees dancing on the deck of a boat as they arrive in Israel, to a nurse comforting a wounded private who has just lost three limbs in battle, to settlers building in the occupied territories.
Together, these assorted images prove fascinating, since they paint the melancholy, collective psyche of a haunted homeland hopelessly caught in cycles of conflict where the next crisis might lurk just around the corner. For, here, we see a Jewish family grieving a young man murdered in a terrorist attack. And there, we hear a shell-shocked soldier declare, “God bless morphine!”
The tableau that perhaps says it all unfolds at a Yom Kippur beach party whose festivities are suddenly disrupted when a jet fighter is shot down over the sea. Israel captured through the eyes of ordinary citizens as a vulnerable refuge where tragedy has become the norm, and where peace invariably leads back to war.
Very Good (3 stars)
In Hebrew with subtitles
Running time: 94 minutes
Distributor: Film Forum
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