Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Posted By on Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM

In war movies of the post-Vietnam era, it's not uncommon for filmmakers to make foreign landscapes seem surreal, mirroring the disorientation troops feel on alien soil. Writer and director Joseph Cedar has taken it a step further, imbuing real combat with the aura of science-fiction. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers guarding Beaufort in southern Lebanon could just as easily be on a remote outpost of some post-apocalyptic landscape.

For the first half hour, when bomb squad specialist Ziv (Ohad Knoller) is brought in by helicopter to clear a device blocking the only road to the fortified compound, Cedar creates an atmosphere thick with tension. The soldiers Ziv encounters are sharply cynical, resigned to their station at the edge of the world, routinely announcing "incoming, incoming" as mortar attacks light up the night sky like lethal fireworks. Their tunnels resemble the corridors of a space station, and the heavy layers of camouflage gear seem thick enough to protect against the atmosphere itself.

It's a bracing setup, immediately bringing audiences into the specific mind-set of these soldiers, whose situation is tenuous. As eternal as their duty may seem, they're actually short-timers: It's 2000, and Israel is planning to pull out of Beaufort, which they've held since 1982. Liraz (Oshri Cohen), the stubborn and volatile officer in charge, expresses frustration at the bureaucratic delays and political machinations that keep his men in harm's way as Hezbollah forces increase the frequency and severity of their attacks.

But when it comes to the members of his unit (Liraz calls his soldiers "kids," even though he's only 22), he has to maintain morale until the final evacuation order. The taut script by Ron Leshem and Cedar follows the unit's final days at Beaufort (condensed from Leshem's novel, which takes place over a year), and details the measured response of dutiful soldiers confronting both hostility and futility.

Cedar (Time of Favor, Campfire) spent part of his military service stationed at Beaufort, and captures the tedium and exhilaration, the isolation and fear, the bonding and rituals of the troops, and the film unfolds strictly from their point of view.

This insider's knowledge extends to a key scene when some soldiers foray to the old fort, a 12th century structure built by Crusaders that's untouched by the contemporary conflict. Outside their bunker, they allow themselves to question their presence at Beaufort, while enjoying a brief moment in the sun.

Showing at the Detroit Film Theatre (inside the DIA, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-3237) at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 25-26, and at 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday, April 27.

Serena Donadoni writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail her at


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation