One day in the Lebanon War of 1982, four young infantrymen are teamed together to operate an Israeli tank. Although they’ve had training, none of the four has ever faced real combat. Before daybreak, they squeeze into the tank cockpit and make their way out of the compound into the dark unknown day ahead. Their mission is simple – travel directly to an identified hostile town across the border in Lebanon and help defeat it. As their journey unfolds, they try to follow the orders of their tank commander, Assi (played by Itay Tiran), but each has their own concerns too – Weapon loader, Hertzel (by Oshri Cohen) just wants to get his job done; Gunner Shmulik (by Yoav Donat) is so new he’s struggling to actually shoot at anything; and Tank Driver Yigal (by Michael Moshonov) would rather operate the simulator than this ungainly thing. They try to stay rational to consider their next actions, but they unexpectedly face the enemy and must act on instinct to achieve their mission. One by one, the young four realise they share this day with others just as inexperienced and terrified as they are – and that this has become a bigger feat than simply to get their mission accomplished. Enemies appear, violence erupts and confusion results in their desperate bid just to survive the day – with their small old tank as their only protection.
The cinematography of this movie brings every scene into stark and close reality, whether you want it to or not. From the first scene, we ride along in the tiny tank space with the four young men and experience everything from the perspective they do – through the tank’s viewfinder to the cross-hatched world outside. Every breath, every bead of sweat and every terrifying moment is shared with these men at very close range. As the drama plays out and the tension rises, tempers flare and the inexperienced men become quite irrational. The movie does include some graphic violence – as does warfare – particularly when the crew reaches the Syrian held town. Although the story is specific about this war and this area, the key points are clear – war is confusing, terrifying and regardless of meticulous planning, things can go wrong. It is very good – the drama is encapsulating. Samuel Moaz was awarded severally for his artful direction, including a Golden Lion and Nazareno Taddei Award at the Venice Film Festival (2009), a Blue Angel for Best Director at the Art Film Festival (2010) and awards at the Brothers Manaki International Film Festival (2010). Giora Bejach’s excellent cinematography was recognised at the Israeli Film Academy (2009), with a Golden Frog at Camerimage (2009), a Bronze Camera at the Brothers Manaki (2010) and he was named European Discovery of the Year at the European Film Awards (2010). Zohar Shtrauss received the Best Supporting Actor Award of the Israeli Film Academy in 2009 for his performance – Art Direction and Sound were also recognised here; the movie won the Jury Grand Prize at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2010 and at the Thessaloniki Film Festival 2009 the film won the Human Values Award. Very very well deserved – well done everyone.
Made in 2009. Directed by Samuel Moaz.