Sunday, June 13, 2010

Film review: Lebanon (at Chapter Arts Centre)

This was a powerful, emotional, tense film that left me feeling a bit drained by the end. One of those films where you're glad you've seen it, but you can't really say you've enjoyed it.

Set in the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, what this film really captures is the chaos of modern warfare, and how the main protagonists don't have a clue what is going on. In this case, everything is seen through the experiences of a tank crew, who don't leave their tank during the whole film. Their only contact with the outside world coming when the hatch on top opens, or viewed through targetting scopes. And much of what they see is hauntingly horrific.

Ordered around by a professional paratrooper major, the tank becomes a carrier for the dead, and a prisoner transport. But who are really the dead and the prisoners? The real thrust of the film is that even those who survive in war die somehow in the process, and whether you're driving the tank or chained up to the steam-pipes, you are still a prisoner.

It's all in subtitles. It's dark inside the tank. There's no way of knowing what's going on. As a film it's got it's limitations. But as a raw statement about being caught up in events you don't understand and cannot wrest control over, it is outstanding.

Jongudmund's rating: 9/10 Only see this if you're prepared to think about it afterwards.

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