Film: For those of you out there who feel you don’t have the patience to sit down and watch a foreign film because you can’t be arsed to read the subtitles then I have one thing to say to you. Shame on you. I agree, you have to be in a particular sort of mood, but to shut off from them completely would mean to  miss out on some of the greatest films ever committed to the screen. It would mean to  miss out on the beauty of Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso, or the tense social and political study of Communist East Germany in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s outstanding The Lives of Others (if you haven’t gathered, I highly recommend these films). It would also mean that you’d miss out on Samuel Moaz’s Lebanon, one of the most unique war films I’ve seen in a while. Eat your heart out Hurt Locker. 

The conflict in question in this movie is the first Lebanon War, set in 1982 as the civil war between Syria and Israel over the republic of Lebanon continues to persist. Four Israeli para-troopers are packed into a tank to take on a seemingly simple mission, proceed through a hostile town which has just bombed by the Israeli airforce, all they have to do is make sure the area is clear. But the pressures of the situation prove hard for some of the troops to handle and the seemingly simple mission turns in to a nightmare and the troops have to rely on their basic instincts of survival whilst trying to remain strong not only for the sake of themselves, but for their comrades in the tank.

The entire film is literally set in a tank, save from the very first shot and the very last shot featuring a sunflower field, the first being very ominous, the last accompanying a sense of relief. The rest of the action never leaves the tank, you only see what’s going outside of the tank through the sight scopes, you never forget the fact that they’re stuck in an iron box which could very well end up being their iron coffin. The sounds of the machinery are constant and the camera is always very tightly framed be it within the tank scope or just on the guys inside. Boaz keeps his camera very close in on his group of unknown actors, so we see very inch of emotion, feel what is going on inside their heads as many are confronted with moral choices in war, which are always ambiguous, and see which ones hold strong in the growing pressures of the situation and which ones slowly start to lose all control. If you want claustrophobia, this has it by the bucket load.

The character developments are very strong and incredibly human, thanks largely to the cast and Samuel Moaz’s very personal script. Boaz himself served as a paratrooper in the Lebanon war, and this film charts the life changing experiences he encountered during the time he served. It’s an incredible story and the movie he has made is just more impactful and tense from the knowledge that the man who made this experienced the conflict first hand, we can trust it to be an honest portrayal of the struggles that some men face in the world of war. It is very similar to Samuel Fuller’s The Big Red One in the respect that it is the film-makers true perspective on a conflict. It is also similar in the fact that it is not trying to raise questions about the reasons behind the conflict or raise awareness on the political situation, like any Oliver Stone war flick. It is showing the war from the perspective of the guys fighting it, not trying to make a statement just a plain and simple portrayal of what war can do to some people, the only question it raises is what you would do in that situation. 

It may not be the most action packed war movie, although the action it does feature is very impressive, it is a much more character driven piece of unique filmmaking with a very interesting war movie concept, managing to pull off tension and conflict all within the confounds of a tank. And for a first time film-maker that is very impressive, and hopefully despite the personal inspiration behind this, Moaz will continue to make movies in the Israeli film industry, which if this is anything to go by, is actually rather good. Moaz has made a very personal film, a film that aims to allow him to understand his experiences and a way to share a unique perspective that deserves to be seen.

Extras: Fairly standard, directors commentary along with a timeline of the Lebanon conflicts, with a trailer. The best, if brief, feature is the Views from the Frontline, in which Moaz talks about the making of them film and many people involved with the film talk about the parts they played. The DVD also contains a handy digital copy, so you can take the film anywhere on your laptop or mp4 player. Which is always nice to have. 

Film: 5/5            Extras: 3/5

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