Walk on Water (2004) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Following the suicide of his wife, an Israeli intelligence agent is assigned to befriend the grandchildren of a Nazi war criminal.

  • Eyal, an Israeli Mossad agent, is given the mission to track down and kill the very old Alfred Himmelman, an ex-Nazi officer, who might still be alive. Pretending to be a tourist guide, he befriends his grandson Axel, in Israel to visit his sister Pia. The two men set out on a tour of the country during which, Axel challenges Eyal's values.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi) is a Mossad agent, ruthless and efficient in killing Palestinian agents the opening moments of the film show such a killing in Istanbul. Early in the film he comes home to discover that his wife has committed suicide, which naturally unnerves him.

    His Mossad chief Menachem (Gideon Shemer) tells him that his next assignment will be different to what he has been doing recently; there is a former Nazi officer, Himmelmann, who has been on their list for a long time. They dont know where he is, and he is now elderly; but his granddaughter lives on a kibbutz in Israel, and his grandson is going to visit. He has asked for a guide through the Israeli tourist agency and Eyal is to take on that role to see what he can find out.

    He meets the young man, Axel (Knut Berger), at the airport and the job seems to involve chauffeuring him around in general. Eyal drives him to the kibbutz and they meet up with the granddaughter, Pia (Caroline Peters). There isnt much to do at the kibbutz but tonight there is folk dancing, which Pia and Axel indulge in. Pia seems to take to Eyal but he says he isnt allowed to dance with clients we assume that he is still mourning his wife, of course.

    Eyal has bugged Pias room, and he listens in to private conversations between Axel and her; it becomes obvious that the old Nazi is still alive, and that the family are in touch with him, but the details of where he is are still not expressed.

    Eyal drives Axel around the tourist sites, and they get along well, but it gradually emerges that Axel is gay and relatively open about it. He is also open minded about the political situation, but Eyal is totally embittered against the Palestinians. To reinforce his motives, we hear on the radio every day that another bomb has exploded, killing Israeli civilians. Eyal expresses his hatred for Palestinians and Axel doesnt entirely understand.

    One of the tourist trips involves swimming in the Dead Sea, and as the place is deserted they do so naked; after a discussion about circumcision the conversation moves on to gay relationships, and it is obvious Axel is suggesting something, but Eyal is sure he is straight and doesnt pick up the suggestions although we feel he seems to be more interested in the topic than he is admitting to himself. On this and other trips together the two men seem to be revealing more and more of their private secrets to one another, and it is Eyal who has more trouble reconciling himself to his own truths.

    Eyal is getting more and more worked up about the state of his life, and he starts to get angry with his boss; he thinks that wasting time on geriatric Nazis is not a priority they will die soon anyway and that there are more immediate jobs he could be doing. Axel is returning to Germany, and gives Eyal a business card telling him to look him up if ever he is in Berlin, but Eyal says that is pretty unlikely; he gives the last disk of the recorded dialogue between Axel and Pia to his boss, saying he has not bothered to listen to it, and that the whole Nazi dimension is a waste of time.

    When the boss listens to the disk, it becomes obvious that a family birthday celebration is being planned in Berlin, and it may well be that the old man will be there. So Eyal is given air tickets to go to Berlin forthwith, which he does. He meets up with Axel, who is surprised, and he wonders if Eyals latent gay dimension is a motivation.

    In a café later, we suddenly see that Eyals boss Menachem is sitting nearby; Eyal is surprised by this but in a short dialogue in Hebrew, he tells Eyal to pull himself together and get on with the assassination of the old man. They then pretend to Axel that this was just a chance meeting. It is obvious that Eyals commitment to this has been very weak.

    They have a snack and go to a gay club, where Eyal asks questions about the mechanics of gay sex, but he again refuses any direct involvement. They are leaving by the U-Bahn when some drag queen friends of Axel emerge from a train. They are obviously very good friends, but when they go on, some skinheads attack them, and Eyal more or less single-handedly beats the skinheads up, very convincingly, and pulls a gun, and tells them to clear off in faultless German. Axel is startled by the gun, and by the German language ability, an Eyal explains that his family were of German origin but that it was a taboo topic at home because of involvement in the war, but he nonetheless picked the language up. This doesnt sound entirely convincing but Axel accepts it, and finally Eyal is invited to the family birthday party.

    He goes along, and everyone is there, except the old man and then he finally appears (played by Ernest Lenart). He is very sick and is attended by a nurse and has a mobile drip with him. Eyal now has even more serious doubts about whether he wants to go through with the job.

    While Eyal is agonising about it, we now focus on Axel. We realise that he is a very modern German, not burdened by the politics of World War 2. He has looked through Eyals papers and discovered the briefing information on the old man. Evidently disgusted by his grandfathers deeds, he decides to take matters into his own hands and goes to the mans room and turns off the life support system, killing him. He goes to see Eyal and in an emotional conversation Eyal says that his wife killed herself because everywhere Eyal goes he brings death we didnt know until now that she had given that reason in her suicide note. Until now Eyal had played the emotionless hard man, but now he breaks down and cries on Axels sympathetic shoulder.

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