A fine new movie, "Lebanon," the winner of the 2009 Venice Film Festival, has just been released in the States. John McCarthy, in a review on our online Culture section, calls it "bracing," "operatic" and "vivid." His review begins:
Wolfgang Petersen’s 1981 submarine thriller "Das Boot" is one obvious touchstone for Lebanon, a gripping war film by Israeli director Samuel Maoz in which the camera’s point of view is largely restricted to the inside of an Israeli Army tank.
Among its remarkable traits, "Das Boot" compelled American audiences to care about World War II’s bad guys—some aboard the U-Boat were ardent Nazis, others not. Sympathizing with the rank-and-file soldiers inside Lebanon’s military conveyance is at once easier and more complicated because the conflict they’re engaged in doesn’t lend itself to tidy demarcations such as good versus evil, us versus them. War itself is the enemy.
Winner of the top prize at the 2009 Venice Film Festival, "Lebanon" is a bracing addition to the canon of anti-war films. No matter how one parses Middle East politics, it is difficult to emerge from "Lebanon" without feeling that the horrors of war overwhelm all other considerations.