Foreign Policy Blogs

Kippur (2000)

This film is almost a documentary.
It follows two Israeli medics who are sent to the front lines during the 1973 Yom Kippur war that began when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel.
This movie, which is in Hebrew with English subtitles, is not political. Rather, it is a study of life in wartime and the struggles facing the human spirit.
The audience feels a part of the action as the medics and a doctor race to perform triage on the wounded. While there is blood in these scenes, there is no gore.

It is difficult to watch this film at times as the medics and others try to carry the wounded to helicopters.
In one scene, they fall in mud and find it almost impossible to move the wounded soldier because they are stuck in it.
Director Amos Gitai does a marvelous job of showing the effects of war without showing the war. Aside from displaying some tanks and occasional explosions, there is no coverage of the battles.
The camera work is interesting in that it sometimes remains still for several minutes as the action takes place on the lens’ periphery. It also follows the protagonists and shakes as the cameraman tries to keep up.
The camera is in back of the pilots in the helicopters and the viewer gets a sense of actually being in it. There are also long, quiet moments in which the camera focuses on the landscape below.
And, aside from in a couple of scenes, there is no soundtrack. This further reinforces the sense that one is watching a documentary.
Kippur is an art-house film.
The opening scene of a man and woman making love while covered in paint goes nowhere and one has to wonder why it is part of the movie.
The realism of this film is powerful. The audience is immediately drawn in to the lives of the two medics and comes along for the ride.
Kippur is timeless, not because of the fact that it is based on a critical moment in Middle Eastern history, but because of its universality: the people involved – soldiers and medical personnel – could be people from any war ever. For American viewers, the film could be about Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
Kippur has been compared to Saving Private Ryan because of its realism and with good reason. However, Saving Private Ryan was a big budget Hollywood movie, while Kippur is a small indie film.

Kippur (2000)

Kippur also requires some patience.
The long, silent camera shots can be frustrating to watch if you’re looking for action. But, if you sit through them to the end of the movie, you appreciate those moments more.
The confusion and fog of war is intensified because there are no close up shots of the actors, mostly just static images from some distance.
What comes across from this movie is that war is hell.
If you’re looking for a traditional war movie, Kippur isn’t it. But if you want a thoughtful piece about the true cost of war, this film is for you.
Kippur is available to rent.
Murphy can be contacted at: [email protected]



Sean Patrick Murphy

Sean Patrick Murphy is a graduate of Bennington College, where he majored in politics and Latin American literature. He has worked for Current History magazine, Physicians for Human Rights, and Citizens for Global Solutions (formerly the World Federalist Association). He lives outside Philadelphia.

Areas of Focus:
Cinematography; Independent Films; Documentary;