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June 11th 1967, the Six-Day War is over and the cease fire has just begun. We follow the journey of Gassan and Haled, two Egyptian soldiers whose only wish is to make their way through the Sinai desert and safely reach the Suez Canal. Thus begins a comical, almost surrealistic saga during which they meet various groups of people across the desert, including Israeli soldiers on patrol and a pushy news reporter. Written by
A compelling and well-constructed anti-war film, that feels ahead of its time specially with the sociopolitical situation in the middle east. It was Israel's Academy Award entry for best foreign film in 1986, and was described by Ariel Sharon, the Minister of Industry and Commerce back then as "a self-destructive portrait of inept Jews".
The narrative traces the surreal journey of two Egyptian soldiers crossing the Sinai desert to reach the Egyptian lines beyond Suez Canal, following the defeat of the Egyptian forces in the Six-Day war in 1967 and the subsequent chaotic retreat.
Being born and raised in Egypt, the obvious issue I found with the film from the outset was the Arabic accent/dialect used by the Egyptian soldiers' characters, and their expressions of fear and surprise, and while this might not make a great difference for the foreign viewer, the second drawback with the dialogues of the two soldiers, which felt too bland and obvious and quite theatrical at times, was sometimes a letdown, specially with the well-written situations where a good dialogue would have been a big addition.
But apart from that, good cinematography that fully utilised the desert background, and interesting sequences specially towards the end, of the encounter between Egyptian soldiers and their Israeli counterparts, made it a worthwhile experience. The powerful humane message of the film and the interesting setting definitely make the film worth checking out for foreign film fans.
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