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March 24, 1995 - Image 62

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-03-24

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SpRiNg, SilvER,



Men Of Valor

A French filmmaker takes on yet another challenging subject.




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196, 60

o one could accuse French
filmmaker Claude Lanz-
mann of too briefly cover-
ing his subjects.
His 1983 Shoah was an eight-
hour epic about the Holocaust.
Among its unforgettable scenes:
a conductor leading a train to the
gates of Auschwitz, and a Polish
Jew, who had since immigrated,
returning home to see his old
neighbors and friends still talk-
ing about the "fat Jewish women"
and "rich Jews," all murdered by
the Nazis.
Of course, they stressed, they
weren't anti-Semitic.
Now Mr. Lanzmann continues
his trilogy on the Jewish people,
which began in 1973 with
Porquoi Israel? ("Why Israel?")
and was followed by Shoah. His
latest effort is a five-hour-long
documentary called Tsahal.
In Tsahal, an acronym for the
Defense Forces of Israel, Mr.
Lanzmann has created a drama
about Israeli soldiers during
times of peace and war, chroni-
cling a defense force that in the
space of 45 years has fought five
wars for Israel's existence.
Currently being shown in Is-
rael and France, the film's screen-
ing at the Festival of Jewish
Cinema in Sydney prompted the
leading Australian monthly, the
Independent, to nominate Tsahal
for best film of the year (1994).
In Tsahal, Mr. Lanzmann re-
lies on extended close-ups on



World Zionist Press Service

faces, accompanied by the spoken Lanzmann interviews — this de-
testimony of soldiers and war vet- spite the fact they have no per-
erans, to tell the story of the Is- sonal memory of the Nazi
destruction of European Jewry.
raeli army.
Tsahal is neither a pro- nor
His questions are casual, often
resulting in reawakening long- anti-Israel film, yet it succeeds in
buried memories in the veterans. conveying the motivation behind
They speak of the fear of battle, Zionism in a way that is exceed-
of being wounded, of losing ingly believable and difficult to
friends, and of the guilty burden dismiss as propaganda. It fea-
tures a wide variety
of having survived
of soldiers, and for-
when so many com-
mer soldiers, who
rades died. It is a film
contribute to the mo-
intended to leave the
saic of the documen-
viewer wondering,
tary's frequently
"How would I have be-
repeated refrain: the
haved in the same sit-
State of Israel would
not have survived
As with Shoah, Tsa-
without the Israel
hal is a documentary,
Defense Forces that
but not in the familiar
today form the nar-
sense. There is no stock
row line of defense
or newsreel footage.
protecting Israel and
The closest Mr. Lanz-
its people from an-
mann comes to that
Ab ove:
other holocaust.
tact, routinely used by
Claude Lanzmann:
In Tsahal, Mr.
so many filmmakers, is Close-ups and haunting
Lanzmann also al-
an audio tape of the
me mories.
lows the critics of Is-
maelstrom in an Israeli
Be low:
raeli politics to have
bunker on the Suez
Soldiers i n the Israeli
their say. While their
Canal during the 1973
paratroop c orps during a harsh characteriza-
Yom Kippur War. But grueling,
fi ve-day march
even this tape is used that signals the end of the tion of Israeli policies,
as a cue to activate the first stage of their basic vis-a-vis the Pales-
tinians during the in-
memory of the soldier
tra ining.
tifada, has been
who originally made
rendered largely moot by the ad-
the recording.
A recurrent theme throughout vent of Palestinian autonomy,
the film is the link between the many of the issues they raise con-
Holocaust and the willingness of tinue to reverberate throughout
Israelis to serve in the armed Israel.
Widely divergent views are ex-
forces. This even proves true for
many of the youngest soldiers Mr. pressed in Tsahal, and Mr. Lanz-


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