Director: Joseph Cedar.
Starring: Alon Abutbul (Kimchy), Ohad Knoller (Ziv), Oshri Cohen (Liraz), Ami Weinberg (Amox Faran), Itay Tiran (Koris), Itay Turgeman (Zitlawy), Eli Eltonyo (Oshry), Ygal Resnik (Rubi), Arthur Perzev (Shpitzer), Daniel Brook (Pavel), Danny Zahavi (Meir), Nevo Kimchi (Avishai), Gal Friedman (Balis), Hanan Yishai (Nadav), Itay Schor (Emilio).
Israeli soldiers in the South Lebanon conflict at the Beaufort castle before the Israeli withdrawal in 2000
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
Beaufort Castle, a 12th century Crusader fort, has passed from hand to hand, from army to army for hundreds of years. Bloody battles have turned it into a mythological symbol of bravery. In 1982, on the first day of the Lebanon War, the Israeli flag was raised on the mountain at the end of a fierce and controversial battle. Eighteen years later, in the wake of public protest, the Israeli government decided to leave Lebanon.
A helicopter lands near a bunker. Two soldiers rush out to greet it. They grab some satchels from the helicopter and head back to the bunker. One soldier leaves the helicopter and helps them take the equipment to the bunker. Shells burst around the bunker.
The introductions begin. Oshri is the company sergeant. Liraz is the outpost commander. Welcome to Beaufort. The strangers says he is Ziv Faran of the bomb squad. They run across an open space to the protected bunker. The two regulars introduce Ziv around. Ziv is going to open the road for them. One of the guys there is Robbie Pavel. Ziv looks on the camera screen to see where the bomb is located. Ziv thinks what he sees is still a hot bomb, even though the guys say it has been exploded already. It is a possibility that they could have reset it when there was a period of no visibility due to the fog.
Ziv says itís very dangerous because there could be more than one device there. He tells the guys he wants to talk to his commander. They should cancel the operation. Liraz tells him that they have been waiting a month for him to come and now he tells them the obvious: that itís dangerous? Ziv says heís sorry, but Kabarnit Procedure isnít appropriate here.
Ziv wants to be alone to talk to his commander. The others leave the room. The guys ask why donít they just send in a D9 armored bulldozer? Because they want to investigate the device, is the answer. Ziv comes in and says he will do it.
Liraz wakes Ziv up to go to the observation post. Ziv says give him a minute. He has to put his boots on. Liraz tells him the men wear their boots to bed. In the corridors Ziv gets a bit disoriented. He finds himself out as far as he can go and meets the two fellows on watch there. They explain this to him and Ziv turns around and tries again. Now he trips on some stairs and falls a short ways. He finds another soldier, one who doesnít answer his inquiries. So he touches him and finds out it is a dummy soldier. He finally bumps into Liraz. Liraz shows him the viewing post. He also apologizes to Ziv for making a big fuss about Zivís initial reluctance. Ziv says his commander told him that the job has to be done, there is no alternative.
Ziv asks a couple of the guys: "Did you know they didnít even need to take this mountain?" If they had just waited until morning the terrorists would have run. There was an order not to take the mountain by force. But somehow it just disappeared, in thin air. Ziv tells them that his uncle on his motherís side was killed here in 1982. The guys get the order to stand down. They leave their posts.
Ziv goes out with a squad. Reaching one of the devices, Ziv tells them to send in the dog. The dog runs over to the device, sniffs it and then sits. His handler then calls him back. Ziv gets into a protective covering. When ready he asks for a medic to accompany him. But Liraz says heís going in with him. Ziv objects that itís not procedure. Tough. Heís the one going with Ziv and thatís that. Ziv starts walking, telling his companion to stay back a distance.
Ziv has to probe the ground as he nears the device. All of a sudden there is a big blast. A soldier named Koris runs to him, lifts up Zivís protective shield and tries to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but itís hopeless.
A bulldozer goes out to do the work now. And evacuation can now take place. Koris, who talked with Ziv a couple of times, is upset. He said a guy was killed here. "He came, said ĎHi," and died."
Liraz orders the dog handler and dog to stay behind. But the handlerís orders are to leave. They have as bit of a tussle, which gets the dog all excited. One of the men of his unit tells Liraz to cool it. Thereís no more road clearing, so let the man go. So Liraz starts yelling and screaming at the handler and telling him to go, get out, you donít deserve to be here. The handler says Liraz is crazy. But he gives the dog a good hug and then turns him over to Liraz. The guys donít say a word to Liraz.
Shelling starts in the early morning. Liraz tells one of the men, Oshri, to go back to Israel. Heís done his duty already.
Some of the guys walk around the bunker area. One of the guys says that soldiers have been on the mountain for a thousand years. But no mortars are directed at the fortress itself. The Hezbollah respect the Crusaders.
The men talk about Liraz. They agree he is a good soldier and a fine leader, but personally they donít care for him. Koris is especially sore because of the way Liraz handled Ziv. The guy dies and then two days later they call in the bulldozer. "So what did he die for?" Some of the guys ask Koris what could Liraz have done any different? Koris says that he could have stood up and told them that the Hezbollah will be here in two weeks and all the IDF is doing now is for nothing.
From a lookout point, a bunch of the fellows look out over the area enjoying the beautiful views. Sshri says goodbye to the guys.
The fellows are relaxing and shooting the breeze when suddenly without warning a bit explosion occurs at the Green Outpost. Liraz goes to check it out with some of his men. Liraz has Koris call in that they need a medic. They have an injury. The outpost got hit not by a shell but by a missile. A fire extinguisher is brought up to the men and Liraz puts out a fire to get in closer to see the damage. A man named Zitlawi looks really burned, but still alive. They put him on a stretcher and take him back to the main bunker area. A helicopter has been called in.
Liraz looks outside and sees another of the men get hit, this one by shrapnel. It's Oshri. The man yells for Liraz to come get him, but Liraz seems in a stupor. Koris hears the call and rushes out and gets him. Oshri's right arm is all bloody and they apply a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. The helicopter arrives and the men are placed inside. Other soldiers have to clean up the blood left by Oshri.
The dayís events are covered by a television journalist. Since the Israelis are not going out much anymore, the Hezbollah figures that if they are to inflict more casualties, they have to hit harder within the outposts themselves. Today for the first time Hezbollah fired advanced anti-tank missiles towards a few guard posts inside the outposts. Their aim is to make the pull-back coming in two months time look like the withdrawal of a bloody, beaten Israeli army. The news anchor says that Sgt. Tomer Zitlawi, age 19, from Afula died today.
The missile was a TOW missile made in the USA. It was probably manned by a Russian sniper trained in Iran. And as of today, they have no defense against it. Liraz says thatís not true. They can hunt down the shooter or take a deterrent action. He says they have become an army of pussies. Liraz tells his fellow officers to let them go to Arnoon. The other officers say nothing. Liraz says how can he send a man on guard duty at the Green Outpost and tell him just to stand there so he can get hit by a TOW missile?
The commander now speaks. He says they cannot take any more casualties. They are avoiding all risks. Men at the outposts will watch from monitors behind protective walls. The commander tells Liraz that Zivís father wants to talk to him. Liraz says he has nothing to say to him. The commander wants Liraz to take a few days off. Go visit Oshri. Liraz says heís not leaving his post. The commander says the order is definitely in: they are leaving this place.
Liraz tells the list maker for guard duty to make another list. He says he wonít. How can he put men at the Green Outpost that was hit and so badly damaged today? Liraz puts himself on the list. Shpitz then volunteers for two hours. Another man and one more volunteers. The list is finished. The new order is that no one stands exposed. They will sit.
The next day Shpitz gets hit while on guard duty by the second TOW missile. Green Outpost is rebuild, this time with more concrete around it.
Liraz watches the television. The program he watches has a guest on, Amos Faran. "Eighteen years ago, on the first day of the Lebanon War, his brother-in-law was killed while taking the Beaufort. Last month, at the same place, Amosís son, Ziv, was killed by an explosive device on the road to the outpost. So Amos, who was active in the Four Mothers Movement, became, against his will, one of many bereaved parents who are now at the height of the campaign to leave Lebanon." The father says itís his fault. He didnít make his sons understand how important their lives are. He feels as though he has abandoned his child.
Explosive devices (land mines) are brought in to be used when they leave the bunker. Liraz speaks with the guy that will blow everything up. He tells him he just canít imagine the top of the mountain left with no or little trace of the bunker that was here.
New arrives. Activastion of Operation "Back to the Future." Liraz tells his men that there is a good chance they will be leaving in the very near future. The South Lebanon Army is collapsing around them, which means they are on their own here for the moment. They are to clear up the place. And there are 980 land mines to set. A convoy will be arriving in two hours. Only he and twelve men will stay behind. And if everything goes well, they will blow up Beaufort at 23:00 hours. The men are excited about leaving.
Koris is given the honor of lowering the Israeli flag. The order comes in that they are to stay another night. The cabinet hasnít decided yet, so as of now there is no clearance to go ahead with the evacuation. Liraz tells Koris to get all the men to the mess hall. But Koris tells him there is going to be a massacre here. He wants Liraz to take the initiative, get the men on the convoy, blow the place up and get the men out of here. Liraz says he canít do that. Koris says he and the men deserve a commander that can do it. Liraz counters by saying that he feels as though there is something physically stopping him from abandoning the mountain.
The generator goes out. One of the guys who has to go on duty at Green Outpost is very scared. Liraz tells him he doesnít have to go. He has decided to leave the Green Outpost unguarded.
They start taking the sign down that says: On 6.6.82 the Beaufort Fort was conquered by the Golani Commando Unit. Liraz tells the men they are leaving. The last of the vehicles start moving down the mountain. A flare goes up. Liraz tells them to give them smoke. But then he has to order them to stop the smoke because itís right on top of them. The fuse it set . The order is given to light her up. The mountain top explodes in a ball of fire.
The last of the convoy leaves for good. At the bottom of the mountain they join the convoy that left earlier. Everyone is so glad that itís over, including Liraz.
Good movie, but it dragged a bit. I think I was as upset as the soldiers were when they learned the news that they had to stay an extra day before evacuating the top of the mountain to head back to Israel. Oh, no, this is going to go on? There was not a lot of action. The Israeli soldiers were just waiting for the order to evacuate. All they were trying to do was to take no more causalities before they left. We never even get to see the enemy. All we see are the results of the Hezbollah shelling. The Israelis themselves weren't doing any firing of any kind at the enemy. In this king of situation, the movie has somewhat of a feel of once having been a theater play.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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