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rock the casbah

Take no Prisoners in ROCK THE CASBAH
Take no Prisoners in the disturbing ROCK THE CASBAH

From the start it should be stated that ROCK THE CASBAH, a film in Hebrew and Arabic with English sub-titles, about the first Intifada in 1989-is disturbing. That, however, is not a criticism of its obviously talented director, Yariv Horowitz, or it’s truly admirable cast-but is solely the consequence of its subject matter.

The hostility between Palestinians and Israelis, which is at the core of the film, is depicted both overtly, for example by a horrible scene, the killing of an Israeli soldier through a washing machine that is thrown on him from a rooftop, and subtly, for example by the look on a Palestinian woman’s face as she tears up money given to her by an Israeli. The film is not action packed, although it is fast-paced at times. Indeed, much of the screen time is taken up showing how a group of four soldiers, comrades of the deceased, try to stave off boredom while keeping watch from that rooftop in an attempt to catch the perpetrators. The tension this engenders between them, and between the occupants of the house and them, is gripping. There is one moment, involving a child, which is absolutely nail-biting.

Yes, disturbing it is, but the film does make you think. No-one in the conflict is shown to benefit from it. All, Israelis and Palestinians alike, are shown to suffer from it. Given this is an Israeli film, the emotional pull of it is, surprisingly, well balanced. The scene where the father of the dead soldier is taken to where his son died is truly heartrending, but equally haunting is the repeated image of a Palestinian mother asking the whereabouts of her son who has been detained by the soldiers.

The film depicts the reality of the conflict-not just the horror and futility of it, but, in some remarkable scenes, its absurdity. The movie is not meant to win hearts and minds, but, undoubtedly, it will affect your heart and your mind. No-one could call it entertaining-but it will, most definitely, hold your interest.

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