Sunday, September 12, 2010

Levanon (Lebanon)

Been delaying to watch this movie because was sold as a war movie and yes, it is a war movie and we will see some terrible scenes but it's also a tremendous human drama and most of all, an incredibly good movie with the word ART in capital letters. I'm still in shock or better, in trance from thinking so many things about what I saw. Still haven't digest much how art cinema and war can combine so good as in this film, it's not easy for my mind to understand it but that's exactly what this movie did by combining what I can call oil and water. Fantastic, fantastic.

This Samuel Maoz film is based on his own experiences as a soldier and basically tells about the first day of the Israel - Lebanon war when for the first time soldiers face the reality of war after only being exposed to training with decoys or better, without humans to kill or that can kill you. Four very young soldiers inside a tank with some paratroopers outside go into an easy mission that gets very complicated due to the inexperience of everyone involved. That's all I'm saying to not spoil the intense and excellent story.

So we viewers go into the war also inside the tank. For almost the entire movie -except two scenes- we will be inside the tank too and will only see the exterior by the tank visors just like real soldiers inside a tank can do. This extraordinary and unique visual storytelling technique generates the most intense emotions while you watch soldiers reactions to whatever is happening, plus there are many takes that show the atrocities of war and the youth of the four soldiers that are simply beautiful. How can you have two so opposite words -war and beautiful- in the same sentence? Only in this unique film that grabbed my total and complete attention since the very first long still camera take that lasted for more than a minute until the very last scene at the same place but now with an intruder that completely fits the setting. Grabbed my attention and never let it go, but became intense quite fast and was no roller-coaster, was intense all the way for the hour and a half it runs. Absolutely amazing.

Maybe some of you will remember that I dislike traditional war movies and it's hard for me to analyze the war side of the movie so I won't go there. I like to analyze the human behavior in this movie that was portrayed so realistic that absolutely transported me inside the tank and became like a voyeur of everything happening in the very small space and the little we could watch by the visors. All that I lived while watching made me think about how little are we prepared for the unknown, no matter how much we have studied, read, and practiced in controlled situations. Think I better stop or this will be too long but if you reached this point you will have a clear idea of how much this movie affected me, not really because of the story -that has been told many times- but by how it was told with extraordinary use of visuals, editing and one intrusive/repetitive sound special effect when the visor moved.

What better day to watch the 2009 Biennale top winner than today? Yes, Lebanon was last year Golden Lion winner and I'm sure that this and all the honors it has collected in the fest and awards circuit are well deserved.

It took me a while to decide to watch but today was an excellent day as I had a good state-of-mind and the correct mood to watch it. I strongly suggest that if you haven't seen it search for your right moment to watch it as this is not a movie to watch just any other day.

Not a movie to enjoy, wait that's not true! If you appreciate great visual compositions, extraordinary camera angles, fantastic close-ups, and more, you will definitively enjoy this movie as much as I did. I highly recommend this film and urge you to not miss it if you haven't seen it yet.


Watch trailer @Movie On Companion

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