"Lebanon" DVD, Blu-Ray Movie Review

1/22/2011 Posted by Admin


DVD, Blu-Ray Movie Review

Directed by Samuel Maoz, Written by Samuel Maoz, 93 minutes, Rated R

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

In "Lebandon," director Samuel Maoz takes us to the front lines in Lebanon, which is a drama about the first Lebanon war in June 1982. Set from the confines of Israeli tanks, Maoz literally puts the audience in the driver's seat. The claustrophobic setting and frame, as well as the restricted view from the periscope, do little to ease tensions. Maoz locks us in with four soldiers, making their distress clear even when the story is not.

On a routine mission, four Israeli paratroopers find themselves navigating hostile territory in Lebanon. As they struggle to make it out of combat alive, many of them slowly start to lose control, resorting to arguing, irrationality and mental breakdown.

Maoz keeps his story relatively simple, so that me may focus all his attention on the people inside the tank. The soldiers move around the tight space, unable to escape the outside and inside threats. Even characters that have a view of the outside world would choose not to see it. Shots through the periscope reveal a terrifying world rife with violence and bloodshed.

These peephole views add perspective to the operations inside the tank. Pulling the trigger gains instant and resonant results. We see the damage it does and the consequences of it. So, when a character is reluctant to keep firing, we understand his plight. He sees the face of the casualty and it clearly haunts him.

Maoz's framing keeps everything taut. Shots from inside the tank are understandably tight, but it's in close-up that he really challenges his actors. Here, the close-ups tend to be on the forehead or mouth, rather than the whole head. Likewise, shots through the periscope focus entirely on people, not settings. We almost never know where we are as Maoz's focus is so clearly on human emotion.

While Maoz's message is clear, his script, or rather these subtitles, are not. The DVD release boasts some confusing scripts, which make the film difficult to follow. Even with the frantic energy of the plot, it's hard to understand what their mission is and where they stand in it.

Thankfully, "Lebanon" succeeds at setting a mood. It's grimy setting and violent images make the plight of these soldiers palpable, even when the story is not.

Grade: B

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