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June, 1982 - The First Lebanon War. A lone tank and a infantry platoon are dispatched to search a hostile town - a simple mission that turns into a nightmare. The four members of a tank crew find themselves in a violent situation that they cannot handle. Motivated by fear and the basic instinct of survival, they desperately try not to lose themselves in the most emblematic act of uncivilized problem solving: war. Written by
Potent, claustrophobic depiction of war inside a tank
Lebanon is based on director Samuel Maoz's own experiences as a soldier in the 1982 Israel- Lebanon conflict. The film focuses exclusively on the experiences of the four young Israelis that are responsible for operating a tank that rolls into Lebanese territory at the start of the war.
For almost the entire duration, the characters and the audience are trapped inside the vehicle; we can see only what they can externally through the narrow tunnel vision of a gun turret periscope. With no wider political context and little character background, this viewpoint successfully creates a claustrophobic, tense atmosphere and provides originality and intrigue to what might have been overlooked as 'another war film'.
The soldiers, confined to the tank, are inexperienced, tired, hungry, thirsty, scared, homesick, dirty, feverish and unable to work competently as a team. In the opening scene, their collective callowness leads to the deaths of a fellow soldier and an innocent civilian. From here, difficulty after difficulty presents itself in the form of hostile forces, indignant superior officers, technological issues and internal disputes.
The way the characters respond, the powerful use of imagery - and the contrast between the constant mechanical noise and darkness inside the tank, and the bright environment and varied action outside - combine to shape a potent viewing experience.
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