Thursday, 1 March 2012

Beaufort - a film

I watched this on iplayer recently. The film is about the final part of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Beaufort is an an old Crusader fortress that has been used by the Israelies as a modern day outpost complete with a maze of underground tunnels and lookout posts manned by dummies (to make it look like there are more soldiers than there actually are).

The film follows the daily routines of the soldiers; their hopes, fears and dilemmas. Most of the IDF has already pulled out and the soldiers at Beaufort are living in a temporal no-man's land not knowing whether today, tomorrow or a day next week, will be their last day in Lebanon. They dream of what they will do when they are home, their families and girlfriends. The boredom is frequently offset by regular Hizbullah attacks. Although it is common knowledge that the Israelies are pulling out, the attacks have been stepped up so Hizbullah can take the credit and say they were responsible for chasing the Israelies out. At least that what the soldiers theorise. Of course the attacks lead to deaths which seem all the more tragic in light of the fact that a few days later the young men would have been home and safe.

It was often hard to remember that these soldiers were indeed young men, most of them being only eighteen. The commander of the outpost was only 22 and yet bore the huge burden of being responsible for the lives and deaths of those under his command. His final task is to supervise the laying of explosives and the complete destruction of Beaufort as they leave.

It was a moving film to watch and it's no surprise to learn since that it has won plenty of awards. As far as I can make out the main events in the film such as the actual withdrawal are based on fact, but the soldiers themselves are only loosely based on real characters and the incidents that happen to individuals, although representative of real incidents, are fictionalised accounts.

The film is in Hebrew with English subtitles and runs for just over two hours.

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