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October 09, 1992 - Image 126

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-10-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ro ession

Life According To
Moshe Dayan's Son

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LARRY DERFNER

Israel Correspondent

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T

here has never been
an Israeli movie that
savages this society
like Life According to Agfa,
which was released in Israel
last month and has become
that country's cultural con-
troversy of the moment.
The Israeli soldiers in the
film are no better than
Nazis: Getting drunk in a
Tel Aviv pub, they sing
about wiping out Arabs, beat
up an Arab cook for no
reason, nearly rape a girl,
and, finally shoot up the pub
and kill a dozen or so inno-
cent people. The other
characters, all Israelis, are
either predators or victims:
Their behavior is abrasive,
brutal; their sex is quick and
lacking any emotion. They'd
like to find love, but they're
just not made for it. This is a
movie about an ugly people.
The director and screen-
writer has been one of the
stars of Israeli cinema for
nearly a quarter-century. He
is Assi Dayan; his father was
Moshe Dayan.
Israelis have long gotten
used to the idea that the
filmmaker, 46, is not a son
after his father's own heart.
Assi is a national anti-hero;
his father was a national
hero. Since the 1967 Six Day
War, in which he fought,
Assi has spoken out harshly
against the Israeli occupa-
tion. He's had four mar-
riages and four divorces, and
a cocaine addiction that he
kicked after being
hospitalized. Like his father,
Assi is a sex symbol, known
for his affairs with numer-
ous women. There the
resemblance ends.
His break with his father,
like all the other messy
episodes in his life, has been
well-documented. In 1981,
when Moshe Dayan was on
his deathbed, Assi (accor-
ding to his account in Robert
Slater's new book, Warrior
Statesman: The Life of
Moshe Dayan) told him:
"You are an SOB . . . You
are the one who invented
screwing as a national item.
You are the generation that
lost sight . . . of what we
were. You made this country
after the Six Day War into a
little fascist nation, a little
SS-trooping nation. You
have changed this state into
a racist one . . . I want you to
know that I hate your guts.
So when you die, remember

there's one person who
thinks of you as a fake, as a
killer."
In his new film, Assi
Dayan indicts Israel much
as he indicted his father:,
Without mercy, without
mentioning the "good side."
It portrays an Israel that is
all black. (The film, inciden-~T
tally, was shot in black-and-
white; the characters are
constantly being
photographed with gro-
tesque expressions by a
barmaid named "Agfa.") 1
Despite its scathing, un---=
forgiving tone, the film is do-
ing well not only in fash-
ionably jaded Tel Aviv, but
throughout Israel. It ha -7
even received glowing re-
views. Yehuda Stay, film
critic for Yediot Aharonot,
the country's largest daily
newspaper, called it "the c
most Israeli film to come out
of Israeli cinema in recent
years."
In an interview in his
rumpled, arty apartment in
Ramat Gan, bordering Tel

Assi Dayan indicts
Israel much as he
indicted his father.

Aviv, I asked Mr. Dayan if
the movie didn't exaggerate
the ugly side of Israel and
Israelis.
"It's an apocalyptic vi-
sion," he said, "It's my
nightmare; it's a prophecy.
As in every prophecy, you
exaggerate. An artist has to
go all the way with his vi-
sion. And you can't 'argue'
with the way I see things,
just like nobody 'argues'
with Fellini over the way he
portrays life in his films."
Frederico Fellini isn't the
only exalted name Mr.
Dayan tosses off when c
discussing his work. In an
essay about Life According
to Agfa, he explains that he
got his artistic perspective
from "existential
philosophy, Heidegger and
his horror of death (angst), to
which I add the 'absurd' of
Camus . . ."
This would sound preten-
tious coming from a college
freshman with a goatee, and, ,
indeed, Assi Dayan is a
mighty pretentious fellow,
still playing the brooding
rebel in middle age, mur-
muring about existential
loneliness to the groupies in
hip Tel Aviv pubs, where he
is a celebrated fixture.
His movie is pretentious,

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