Published on January 24th, 2011 | by Chris1
Lebanon is a tight little movie about an Israeli tank crew in the early days of the 1982 Lebanon/Israel war. And really, that's about all I have to say about it. Well, OK, maybe not *all*....
Despite winning several awards, (see the IMDB page) I just couldn't bring myself to like this film. It starts off well enough, but it just never seems to gain any momentum, it failed to really pull me in, and I just wasn't feeling the "overwhelming tension" I'd heard so much about. I felt the tank crew came across as more whiny and incapable than scared-in-the-face-of-battle.... There's a subtle difference, which just didn't quite make it.
That's not to say there aren't some interesting things going on. The concept is good enough, and initially the whole "war viewed through the scope" thing is interesting, but it gets old fast. Especially the "video game" like degradation of said scope throughout the movie. Also interesting is the early visits to the pool of water and oil on the floor of the tank, the crew gazing on their own reflections therein, but then never really coming back to that.... The audio, however, is the one gem here. The sounds of the tank, especially as it takes on more and more damage throughout the film, are really quite excellent.
But back to it. What really put me off this the most, however, was the blatant, "war is bad, m'kay?" vibe going on. Yes, we all know war is bad, evil business. It's messed up and the normal rules of human decency get thrown on the floor and pissed on. The thing is, for the most part, all war movies are anti-war movies, in one respect or another. The early sequence with the car, and the dismembered driver shouting "peace! peace!" started that. Then the sequence soon after with the family held hostage made it clear what direction we were headed.
There are several other moments that left me scratching my head as well. The whole thing with the "phalangists" and the syrian prisoner I didn't quite get. Maybe its a 'frame of reference' thing that I don't understand, I don't know.
Ultimately I didn't think it succeeded. If you want a really tense (and intense) tank movie, try 1988's The Beast.
I'm giving this a five, just because of the audio, and several stylistic elements (see above) that caught my eye. And yes, the whole thing is in Hebrew with subtitles, just a heads up.
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In 1982, during the First Lebanon War, a tank manned by a novice crew of Israeli soldiers are led into a town previously bombed by the air force. Young men who have never fought before are now placed inside of a killing machine and thrown into a situation that quickly spins out of control, testing the mental toughness of the men inside of a confined space, with only the lens of a periscopic gun sight to see the madness outside...
DVD InformationBinding: Blu-ray
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Manufacturer: Sony Pictures Classics
Original Release Date:
- Reymond Amsalem
- Ashraf Barhom
- Factory sealed DVD
Summary: I just couldn't bring myself to like this film. It starts off well enough, but it just never seems to gain any momentum, it failed to really pull me in, and I just wasn't feeling the "overwhelming tension" I'd heard so much about.