You are barely awake, and the soothing urges of sleep make your lids heavy as your deprived eyes burn out from their womb. It is not even two hours past midnight, but miraculously you have heard your Commanding Officer wake you from your homely bed before he was forced to douse you in cold water.
You have a vague suspicion of what is happening. The enduring hostilities between your home country and the political wreck that has become the north, including an assassination attempt on your country’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, has sparked a futile preemption of hot potato in calming the encroaching calls for invasion and total war between Lebanon and your home Israel.
You are a loader in a tank crew, this is your last week of duty, and you anticipate with a sense of hallucinatory denial as you meet your acquaintances, that you may not be free from the Army for another extra week, a month, potentially a year; hell, if you’re even lucky enough to be alive in Lebanon does war encapsulate the entire Middle East, and Israel is glassed from Western recognition.
You are responsible for discerning the crime of killing innocents to preventing Syrian Republic Guard from killing your family at home. You cannot decipher a difference in the dress, etiquette, tactics or locale of the enemy from the civilian. You are forced to make brothers out of people you have awkwardly passed by as ones you would never see following your now post-poned decommission.
Amid your sleep-deprived arrest of worry and contemplation, you climb into your greasy tank and the hatch is closed over you and your claustrophobic quarters and crew.
You are allowed a small nap as you make half-hearted greetings to your crew and await orders.
A nap is like masturbation to you. You would rather have it all. Before you can fall into deep rest, a radio barks and makes its rude conviction an amplifier to your sincere fear of death.
“Rinoceros, the flower field to your north.”
Your commander and gunner stare through night vision periscopes as the tank whines through the plain of dewy sun flowers, and you watch from the back of the spinning turret; your hands clasp the cold iron shells of explosive demise.
“Welcome to Lebanon.”
Lebanon is a 2009 psychological thriller and anti-war film written and directed by Samuel Maoz depicting the first days of the 1982 Lebanon War through the perspective of an enclosed tank. The setting’s rendition evokes feelings of just that: an isolated incursion through Canaan’s hell.
The story follows the experiences of four tank crew members as they fight one of the most widely-condemned and controversial wars of Israel’s existence, and it is an interesting perspective at that.
The language is enunciated with haste in native Hebrew, but there is brief English and Arabic spoken that adds accurate and detailed realism to the film and its historical subject. However it is not only such details that sparkle, but the message and moods that weave under the intensity and seriousness the movie conducts. This is what I am inspired by when I watch such a heavy and emotional film, message and backstory candidly working together to portray a believable and craggy imperfection of documentary.
This movie is worth watching and learning from, if you can focus both on subtitles and perspective. What fun is spoiling the plot? Lebanon is a near-perfect execution of what issues need to be addressed in the folly that has honed the knives of hate in this perpetual Middle-Eastern conflict. Themes of community, compassion and coping with loss and struggle are strongly emphasized in this motion picture.
The DVD is available in select retailers, movie stores and is on Netflix.