12 January 2011 | mjneu59
soap opera Zionism
Ace Israeli director Uri Barbash lays an egg on this 1987 film: a glossy, unconvincing period piece with a big budget and bankable stars (by Israeli film standards), and a dispiriting sense of commercial artifice. The story is loosely based on actual diaries of Jewish settlers in Galilee circa 1920, but a superficial attempt to trace the roots of Israeli-Arab antagonism only reduces complex issues to soap opera melodrama: Yulek loves Sima, who commits suicide out of unrequited passion for Zev, who lusts after Anda, who is having an affair with Amnon...and so forth. Much of the dialogue follows the same approach, overstating the obvious ("We're under attack!") and leaning hard on the narrative crutch of voice-over narration, which can't help but sound trite in heavily accented English. The film is basically a Hollywood western transplanted to the Middle Eastern frontier, with Jewish pioneer homesteaders defending themselves against wild Arab Indians. It looks as if Barbash couldn't resist the siren song of an ersatz Hollywood production, but the effort was unlikely to open any career doors.