April 7, 1980 (35th Israel Film Fest)

We moved seamlessly from an actual documentary about Albert Speer into a dramatization of the events of April 7th, 1980, which is probably a very significant date if you were alive at the time, and living in Israel.

Assuming you’re too young or not Israeli enough to know, the broad strokes are this: A small group of terrorists invade the Misgav Am kibbutz to get hostages and thereby negotiate the release of their fellow terrorists. They screw up and end up inside the kids’ dormitory. An abortive attempt at a quick rescue results in a dead soldier, and the Israelis are forced to pretend to negotiate with the terrorists until they can mount a better raid.

Spoiler: They're not.

They seem nice.

Apparently one title for this film was The Longest Night, and while it’s only about 80 minutes long (excluding credits), it’s plenty long enough. Even with a 20 minute lead-in where you get to know some of the people, you’re still looking at a solid hour of wondering when kids are gonna get murdered. The action scenes are done shaky-cam, which I get, but which I felt was kind of mistake. The shaky-cam creates a chaotic situation where you don’t know what’s going on and are reduced to being anxious about the results, which is fairly reflective of real life violence.

On the other hand, the shaky-cam creates a chaotic situation where you don’t know what’s going on and are reduced to being anxious about the results. I think I might have preferred the other extreme, where the action was all done in a remote way.

It’s not a bad movie; we liked it all right. (I wouldn’t say we enjoyed it, exactly.) One thing about being short is you can make a clean statement—say about the traumatic existence of being a Jew surrounded by animals who will kill your children—without wearing out your welcome. You can give a sense of the experience without seeming to be lecturing.

I pointed out to the Boy that there are certain things the Jewish side of the conflict does in their movies that the Arab side does not. In this movie: a) the terrorists goof, they end up in the kid’s dorm accidentally; b) some of the terrorists are conflicted, they don’t want to be there; c) commonality is shown between the Arabs and Jews. I’m sure (c) is true—it can be hard for those of us not caught up in the conflict to tell them apart. I read the (slim) Wikipedia entry and didn’t see any evidence of (a) and (b).

Interestingly, too, the Wiki describes the deaths that occurred, and the movie changes the order and nature of those deaths. I presume this was just for greater dramatic purposes.

Not for everyone.

It’s an hour of feeling like these people look.

In the real incident, the terrorists come in and immediately kill a 2-year-old. Obviously, if they had done that in the movie, that would’ve undermined all of (a), (b) and (c), and removed a considerable amount of tension.

The group was the Arab Liberation Front which, naturally, had me thinking of Life of Brian. I half wanted one of them to start cussing out the Liberation Front of Arabia.

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