A blog dealing with either the joy of cinema or the agony of cinema--nothing in between.
Monday, May 2, 2011
On the first day of the Lebanon War in 1982, a group of Israeli soldiers manning a tank are stopped outside of a town when a commanding paratrooper enters and gives them their orders: enter the town which has already been bombed out by the Air Force, clear out any remaining soldiers, and meet at the rendez-vous point on the other side of town. The paratrooper closes by saying that it is a simple mission which it will obviously anything but. As the men plod into a living nightmare, it becomes clear that they are all young novices new to warfare and terrified at what lies ahead. Lebanon might as well be called Das Tank, and is virtually the same movie stylistically as Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot. Now, instead of being confined to cramped quarters of a German U-Boat we are inside the hot, dingy, suffocating quarters of a tank. These conditions are palpatable to the viewer and we also see only what the soldiers see, mostly the inside of the tank and the silent happenings outside seen through the periscope, which adds another level of terror. Lebanon is an intense film and I was interested to learn that its writer/director Samuel Maoz was once a young soldier operating a tank in the Lebanon War. He transfers his hellish experiences finely into film, and there is another very fine moment in the film where the soldiers are bonding and one of them relays a humorous story to the unit. My problem with the film is that it seems incomplete and even cut short. At 94 minutes, things wrap up way too quickly. They're is also a great sense of disorientation and confusion as to what is going on, which is probably intentional, and we do not get to know the characters well enough. They're is a better way to make this kind of film (disorienting the audience while orienting them with other elements of the story) and I am not sure why this film took so much of the visuals from Petersen's film and didn't borrow from it these other factors that made Das Boot great. Lebanon is an intense, tangible film that doesn't feel quite like a full length feature.