FIRST LOOK

Samuel Maoz's Lebanon - A Film Set Entirely Inside a Tank

by
September 9, 2009

Lebanon Photo

That photo you see above is the first still from Samuel Maoz's Lebanon, a film set almost entirely inside of a tank. The film just premiered at the Venice Film Festival (reviews below) and also shows at the Toronto Film Festival and is about a lone tank and a paratroopers platoon that are dispatched to search a hostile town during the Lebanon War in 1982 (same war as seen in Beaufort and Waltz With Bashir). As described in the TIFF guide: "Lebanon is a sensual film in the dictionary sense of the word. The majority of the action takes place inside the tank, and a hot, sweaty, rusted-out place it is, rank with the odours of men and fear."

Derek Elley at Variety says: "Visceral, torn-from-the-memory filmmaking that packs every punch except one to the heart, Lebanon is the boldest and best of the recent mini-wave of Israeli pics (Beaufort, Waltz With Bashir) set during conflicts between the two countries."

Guy Lodge at In Contention says: "We never learn enough about the principals to really invest in their despair, making the film less rewarding as storytelling than as sensory study, but the significant applause at the end of the screening was testament to its no-frills power."

This also reminds me of Rodrigo Cort├ęs' Buried, which stars Ryan Reynolds as a man who wakes up inside a coffin buried underground, and the entire film takes place in a coffin. While a tank is a bit bigger and it has four people instead of one, it's an interesting concept either way and will be hitting way before Buried does anyway. And the reviews from Venice aren't bad either, which is a good sign. This wasn't on my radar at all for Toronto until my friend Eric Lavallee of IONCinema mentioned it to me earlier today and I thought I'd feature it, as I'm now planning on checking it out. Stay tuned for my review sometime in the next few weeks!

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  • Kenneth Van Castle
    That's an interesting idea. I'm glad it has reviews because I wouldn't know what to expect. You already had Moon earlier this year, which went down the route of a lone place, a little exterior, and a twisted plot. So now we have Buried and Lebanon. Is there something to be seen with movies being bolted down to one particular location? I mean, we've had our earlier action pics with Die Hard, Under Siege and such, all trying to bolt down a particular setting, but now we're even limiting the number of people. I've always wanted to see an entire two-hour feature with only ONE cast member, and I'm wondering if we're finally moving towards being able to approach that. Moon did it the best with a limited cast and a crazy story. Moon was fantastic. But now you wonder-- How entertaining can four guys be inside something with loud noises and they're always sitting? Inside a submarine, you have moment (Das Boot, Crimson Tide). And Buried... Minimal movement, one guy... Can it really work with everything being so limited?
  • Xerxex
    I say it can, it will take a lot of patience from the audience but as long as the story can hold us and the actors do their best then we're good.
  • Scott
    Sounds like Ryan Reynolds film cast entirely in a coffin. Cept a coffin sounds cooler and creepier than a tank...
  • DoomCanoe
    I'm so down for this. Its going to be a complete character study can't wait
  • There is a teaser for that already: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvYCW1LVFIE
  • Guy
    Uhhh...Beaufort isn't set in 1982 but it is set in Lebanon.
  • Marcus
    @DoomCanoe Actually, from the review that Alex posted, it looks like it doesnt do enough of a character study as you don't fully connect with them. I'll still give this a watch but I doubt it will be at the cinema.
  • Daniel
    When I first saw this posted I hoped for something comparable to The Beast, especially in a somewhat realistic portrayal of tank combat and the lives of tankers. After seeing that trailer it seems to be much more of an artistic film perspective rather than anything accurate. The shots inside don't look right and the sight picture is all wrong. I think The Beast, for all its flaws, will remain a the best tankers movie though I do look forward to seeing this and appreciating it for what it is.
  • Tra la la la la di da
    Sounds a lot better than Buried. I like the idea and these films hold a lot of potential because of how limited everything is, they must excel in the story. Although Open Water ailed in that area. Like watching Shark week without the cool footage. Like Open Water and Buried (when it comes) I'll Netflix it. I'll watch buried but seriously, how long can I watch a guy in a coffin? Hasn't that been done?
  • Sounds interesting.
  • beavis4play
    sounds like an intense character study..........i'm sold!
  • Jordan
    meh, this is a rip-off of Buried. it's like both in the middle east, all filmed inside one thing. Buried sound a heck alot cooler anyway. And no, #9 it has not been done.
  • discojellyfish
    Kind of reminds me of The Beast with Jason Patric.
  • Indian film director Anurag Kashyap was praising this film while speaking to press during 14th International Film Festival of Kerala. He saw it at Venice International Film Festival where he had been elected as a member of the jury.
  • Yelenamazour
    Nonsense. Just watch it. It is entirely autobiographical. It is very powerful, maybe too powerful.

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