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Jeremy Hardy vs. the Israeli Army (2003)

| Documentary, War


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Credited cast:
Nicholas Blincoe
Jeremy Hardy ...
Leila Sansour
Adam Shapiro


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Documentary | War






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Feels like Beeb Spirit
30 August 2004 | by See all my reviews

First an apology; I gave the film a six by accident. It should have been a seven. But then how much can you tell of a film from a mark out of ten?

Despite his prominence in the film and the documentary being about his experiences I felt that this was Leila Sansour's film. That it was her life but she couldn't tell it to us, she had to show a westerner's reactions to it. Hardy brings a middle class England perspective to the entire conflict. He has liberal attitudes and a healthy political knowledge and so seemed to fit in well with the non-confrontational spirit of the protests, but this seems to have carried through to his convictions. It sounds ludicrous but he doesn't seem enthused about what he is doing and about the problems of the situation. This could be down to his just-got-up voice and a sarcastic wit that at other times, in other programs can come close to petulance. When the protesters become more involve and sneak into Palestinian settlements Hardy seems to be going through it with a non-challenge that might leave you thinking he were sitting next to you on the sofa, commenting on something distant.

To be fair to the man he didn't go looking for this. As is shown, about a week after he was approached he was in Israel and being trained on non-confrontational protests so you understand that he could be 'shell-shocked by it all but still you seem to expect more. You want the man to get angry, you want him to cry and you want him to rage at the injustice of the army firing on peaceful, truly and utterly peaceful, protesters. But he doesn't. He doesn't even get angry when he comes home and has to deal with the 'authority' here. He makes it part of his stand-up act. The man is a comedian so it's not unexpected but he's also your guide on a story that needs telling and when he returns home and talks of it being such an adventure, one he may or may not repeat, you are left feeling that the problem is richly deserving of a documentary, but not too much of your time.

I'm afraid that I'm being too hard on the film because I don't think it dealt with the gravity of the problem. We saw a middle-class man being shepherded around a troubled area and being safely removed when things got tough. But all that said he did his job. He did not try and convince us what to think because it is not his place and any arguments he made would be hollow and almost spoon-fed to him. What he did, and what Leila Sansour did brilliantly through him, was to be objective from a given viewpoint. Not to trivialise the problem with inaccurate facts, twisted logic and cheap stunts. Not to give us what the politicians want on the people's behalf or what the headline grabbing extremists want but to give the people in the area a medium to tell us their thoughts, their opinions and what they think of things. It reminds of the BBC, back when they had frequent, high-quality reporting.

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