Samuel Maoz's Lebanon - A Film Set Entirely Inside a Tank
by Alex Billington
September 9, 2009
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 Cortés' 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!