It's June of 1982, and four young Israeli soldiers are assigned to operate a single tank. Their first mission is to enter a civilian Lebanese village to clear it of possible PLO terrorists. Something goes horribly wrong, however, and the ensuing panic leads to miscommunication, death, destruction and hostages. All hell breaks loose around these young men as they face the perennial question: kill or be killed?

Lebanon is a sensual film in the dictionary sense of the word. The majority of the action takes place inside the tank, and a hot, sweaty, rusted-out place it is, rank with the odours of men and fear. Maoz is supported by a cast of Israel's finest up-and-coming young actors. He shows us war through the eyes of Yigal (Michael Moshonov, also starring in Bena at TIFF), Gamil (Zohar Strauss) and Asi (Itay Tiran). In addition, Yoav Donat plays Maoz as a young gunner. None of these men are heroes, none of them eager to kill or die themselves.

Maoz was a twenty-year-old novice soldier in the initial days of the first Lebanon war. Traumatized by his time in combat, he for years manifested his distress as outbursts of anger and long stretches of depression. It wasn't until 2007 that he felt there might be something to gain, both for himself and others, from creating a fictionalized version of his experiences.

Lebanon joins a growing body of films from the last few years, including Beaufort and Waltz with Bashir, in which a particular generation of Israeli soldiers look for a way to bare their souls, voice their angry questions and search for a fitful peace. By braving his own “heart of darkness,” Maoz has created a film that poses ground-level questions about war and how obtuse our societies are to assume there will be no repercussions for the young people we ask to wage it.

Film Info

2 min 24 sec Duration
  • Posted: September 21, 2009
  • Director: Samuel Maoz
  • Writer: Samuel Maoz
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
  • Release: August 6, 2010
  • Cast: Yoav Donat, Itay Tiran, Oshri Cohen

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