July 10, 2013
Studio: Alma Films
Directors: Arik Bernstein, Eliav Lilti
MPAA Rating: N/A
Copyright Holder: N/A
Why is it that home-movie footage, usually taken at celebratory events (birthdays, weddings, bar mitzvahs, summer holidays, Christmas), may evoke profound sadness when viewed in retrospect? Susan Sontag wrote brilliantly on the nature of photography: that it freezes a moment which is instantly no more, that it captures the transitory, allowing us to consider its fate. "Israel: A Home Movie" performs this role for an entire nation. Arik Bernstein assembles amateur movie footage from the 1930s through the 1970s: from Romanian refugees dancing on the decks of boats as they arrive in then-Palestine, to postwar Europeans complaining of a "barbarian land," to celebratory Israelis in 1968 proclaiming victory in "the last war," to those in the '70s who founded settlements in the occupied territories. In the course of one movie, Israel goes from a young, optimistic nation to one in which the realities of middle-age settle in. As early as the late 1970s, one feels that tragedy has become the norm, that life inevitably leads to death and that – in Israel as we have known it – peace inevitably leads to war.