Kippur

Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai served in the military during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and he recreates his experiences in Kippur, a film made in 2000, but perhaps still too close to the events in question to say anything concrete about the nature of Israeli life then or now. Kippur opens in a peaceful Tel Aviv, as a soldier (Liron Levo) makes love to his girlfriend on a canvas covered with wet paint. Levo then joins a buddy (Tomer Russo) to drive back to their base, but they're diverted to another facility and sent on a mission to recover the wounded from a nearby battlefield. Gitai presents the rescue efforts in real time, lingering over the bombed-out landscapes and accentuating the action's Sisyphean aspects. (In one lengthy passage, the leads struggle to keep a man on a stretcher as they trudge through the mud.) As a document of Gitai's own memory of the conflict—and a supplement to the documentary he made on the subject three years earlier—Kippur is intriguing, but seems incomplete. Seemingly purposefully, Gitai avoids adopting an attitude about his scenes' subtext. Only the paint-smeared sex bookending the narrative has an impact, as a comment on the sublime inspiration for art. Otherwise, the picture is pervaded by the idea that war is chaotic and confusing—a truism worth reiterating, but not to the exclusion of any other perspective. In the end, Kippur may have more to say about 2000 than it does about 1973. Gitai has been criticized by his countrymen for implying that the Israeli military's reputation for efficiency is overrated, but his attacks here are soft. In 27 years, that softness might well be seen as a byproduct of the internal tension of Israelis who romanticize the nation's might while simultaneously praying for peace.

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