Matzor (Siege) (1969)
Director: Gilberto Tofano.
Starring: Eran Agmon, Gila Almagor (Tamar Gat), Yael Aviv, Dahn Ben Amotz, Yehoram Gaon (Eli), Omna Goldstein, Anni Grian, Micha Kagan, Raviv Oren, Amir Orion, Baruch Sadeh, Uri Sharoni.
set during the Six Day War (June 5 and 10, 1967), a woman loses her husband and tries to start a new life
A Newscast: "This is the Voice of Israel. It is l100 am. and here is the news read by Emek Peri. Our casualties in yesterday's incident at Suez are 14 dead and 31 wounded. . . . Three fuel depots in Suez were set on fire by Israeli artillery. The cease-fire started at 1:30. Israel's delegate at the U.N. has complained that the Egyptians ambushed our forces at Port Tawfik. One Israeli soldier was wounded. Curfew has been imposed today at Nablus, Ramalla and El Bireh following student demonstrations in the schools and streets. During his meeting with the mayors of Ramalla and El Bireh, the Minister of Defense, Mr. Dayan, stressed that the Army would not tolerate further demonstrations and violence. . . . "
Two men beep the horn of their jeep to get the woman, Tamar, inside the house moving. A little boy, Uri, comes out of the house and then comes Tamar. Tamar has been recently widowed by the war. Her husband died fighting for Israel.
Israeli units are being called up. Men are putting on their military uniforms and packing their things. A family says goodbye to its soldier. The jeep comes along and picks up the soldier. The soldier driver of the jeep, Eli, tells Tamar in the passenger seat that it's a shame she didn't attend the party. Zevik, sitting in the back, brought a pretty blonde to the party.
The jeep stops at the hospital. Uri looks in the ward where wounded men are receiving physical therapy from the nurses. The group has come to see one of the wounded men, who shows them that he can move around much better now. Eli tells the fellow that his socks keep falling down. To keep his socks up, the wounded man says: "If I had a wooden leg, I'd use thumb tacks." They see a man in a wheel chair. The wounded fellow says the guy is a Fatah member, who they captured in Gaza. [Fatah is a Palestinian political and military organization founded in 1958 by Yasser Arafat and others to bring about the establishment of a Palestinian state.]
At dinner, Uri tells mother that he had another dream about his father. He dreamed that his father came home at night and took him for a walk. Mom smokes at the table.
Tamar passes the day doing housework and fixing things around the house and taking care of Uri. Uri asks for his father's shaving razor, but mom tells him he will get it at his Bar-Mitzva. Uri remembers that his father used to put shaving cream on his nose. He and mother laugh about it.
The neighbors gossip about Tamar. One person says: "She should have gone back to work." Another comment is: "She has no interest in anything." Eli visits her everyday.
When she goes to the grocery store, she sees people staring at her. She rides a bike and people say she rides like a girl. Others says she didn't come to the funeral. Many agree that Tamar never broke down.
Tamar is restless at night. Reading a book doesn't interest her. She takes some pills, then goes outside.
Women are grieving at the graves of the soldiers that were killed. But Tamar buys some new, modern outfits. The mini-skirt is in fashion. Tamar wears a wig, but then decides not to wear it. Eli continues to come visit here. One day he comes in to tell her that the neighbors were upset because Tamar was seen in a new mini-skirt and a wig.
Tamar met a man, named David, who works a bulldozer, and they sat and talked for awhile. Now she meets him again, only partly by chance. Tamar tells him that when she talks to people she can tell they have fear in their eyes. They are afraid that she, the war widow, will start to talk about her husband. She adds: "I feel I'm on a stage and they're all looking at me waiting for me to do my part." She also mentions that her son hasn't gotten over it yet. He covered his father's photo because he said his father was always looking at him.
News of the day: "Today our air force attacked Iraqi positions in Jordan."
David asks how was her husband killed? She says they told her he was hit by a stray bullet. He then asks did he die? Tamar finds this a strange question. She checks her watch and says she has to go because it's already 8:30 at night and she's expecting company.
Tamar arrives a bit late. She apologizes to the Eli and his son for being late. They have already eaten. Eli's son was the baby sitter. Eli asks where's Zevik? Tamar says he went to look for Yossi. Tamar gives the baby-sitter his money. Eli says he has invited over to Tamar's house a man who has a big heart and is in electronics.
Zevik arrives with two men and a woman named Tammy. One is older and named Nathan. The other man is younger. The men talk about the war, which is still very sharp in their memories. Nathan says he was in the signal unit. Nathan also spent ten years in the United States. He has imported 300 TV sets and is selling them. Tamar says she doesn't want a TV in her house. Tamar seems very bored with the man, but she's even more bored when everyone leaves.
Eli talks with Tammy who says that he is always bringing suitors over to see Tamar. Eli says it has been a year and a half since her husband died. She needs to remarry and they don't want her getting hitched to any playboy. Tammy says he shouldn't be so interfering in Tamar's life. After all, what does Eli know about Tamar's feelings these days? Eli gets back at Tammy by asking her the same question.
Tamar and David attend a soccer match in which Eli is playing.
Someone asks Eli on maneuvers how was Tamar's husband Amos killed. Eli says that they thought they had cleared the area of enemy soldiers. Amos and another man went into a cave and his buddy was cut down by a man inside the cave.
Tamar comes home and Eli's son, the babysitter, tells her that they saw Eli on the television. (Yes, she broke down and got a TV.) Lots of images of war, rebellion, the put down of rebellions, etc. are shown on the television.
A fellow war widow comes to speak with Tamar. And like Tamar, she says she feels likes she's on a stage and everybody is watching and judging her. She adds that there's all this nonsense otherz say that her husband's not really gone. She says: "He's gone, period. That's all!"
Driving along the highway with David, Tamar listens to the man talk about his past. Zevik and Eli see the two drive by them.
Tamar visits the grave of her husband.
Tamar, Eli and his wife, Zevik and his girlfriend and their friend Yossi with a prosthetic leg go to the beach for a picnic. Eli mentions to Tamar that he and Zevik saw her in a green truck, and Eli feels that Tamar deserves better than a green truck.
David says that poor Tamar feels that she is being besieged by the people around her. She feels they are not acting in a natural way. He knows that she'f having a hard time, but ultimately, it's her problem and she will have to solve it herself.
Tamar mentions that she hasn't told her friends about her new boyfriend because they will see the relationship as something temporary -- as just a quick affair.
It's 5 in the morning, and neither Tamar or the boyfriend can sleep. So, they get up and get dressed. David says he's going to take Tamar to a place where no one will know them.
They take a trip to the Orly airport. David says now they can kiss in public because people will just say they are just saying goodbye to one another. And now they hug and kiss each other pretending they are having to part for awhile.
Tamar calls her headmaster and asks if she can come back to work? The answer is yes.
Tamar writes her friend in Paris to say that she has gone back to teaching. She writes that she feels so much better and even walks again like she used to walk before the death of her husband.
Uri rides on the bulldozer with David. They have fun together. Now David comes over to dinner with Tamar and Uri. Later they watch television together. Then Eli and Zevik drop by the house. Tamar introduces David to them. The guys say they have tickets for the second show. Zevik quickly leaves saying he has a date tonight. A little later, David decides to leave.
Alone with Tamar, Eli asks: "Why should I find myself in the midst of this family party?" Tamar says she's not talking about David with Eli. Eli asks why can't he know this David fellow? Tamar says she doesn't have to tell Eli anything. She adds that she can make her own friends and that Eli is stifling her. Eli asks if she remembers him? Remember he's Amos' best pal. He walks out as Tamar says it's not fair to do that to her.
Eli goes over in his military uniform to speak with David. He wants to know if David is serious about Tamar, because if he isn't, he should stop the relationship right now. David says he doesn't have to tell him anything, but he hasn't lied to her and he hasn't misled her. And he says he's a contractor with enough money to support three wives. So, now Eli asks David if he'd like to have a drink? Zevik and Yossi are with Eli and all four of them go to have a drink.
In the bar, David is the only one not smoking. Eli says he would give a lot to get peace for Israel. He also apologizes for making a scene last night at Tamar's place.
Eli and Zevik go over to the school to see Tamar. They want to get back on her good side. The problem is that Zevik can't get his bus started. So David has to pull the bus behind his truck.
Now David has to go into the military for 30 days. Tamar is very upset about it and so is Uri. Tamar says she has already given enough to the country in her own pain.
Tamar hears over the radio that two men were hurt when their bulldozer hit a mine. One man is in critical condition.
Tamar talks with Eli and he agrees to take her out to Bet Shean where David is stationed.
The last scene is one of a camera crew shooting film of the actors. Meanwhile, Israel suffers more deaths in war.
Good movie showing the suffering of a young, pretty Israeli woman after her husband is killed in the Six Day War. She is having a hard time adjusting to her loss. The neighbors and friends kind of hold her healing back, because of their staring at the widow and their constant petty gossip about her. It really bothers Tamar. The buddies of her husband try to help her, but sometimes they also stifle her, such as interfering in his private business. She meets a new man and starts slowly healing and feeling better. And then he's called up for military duty to work on clearing off roads in dangerous war areas. She's back to being very upset and very alone.
I had to rely on the subtitles and often I wouldn't learn the name of the characters until much later in the film, making the write-up much more difficult.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
Return To Main Page
Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)