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Wall is a shocking, searing account of the barrier now being built in Israel, an ugly monstrosity that is physically separating Arab from Jew. The government’s hope is that this unwieldy partition will hamper Palestinian suicide bombers from carrying out their assaults.
Apparently, it has been working to some degree.
Yet, is its success worth its financial, physical, and emotional costs?
Director Simone Bitton apparently thinks not. In Wall’s press notes, she avows, “Peace will come. It always does. But for now, the era of walls is upon us, and I sense that it will be a horrific one.”
Born in Morocco to a Jewish family, Bitton moved to Jerusalem in 1966, did her military service during the 1973 war, became a “pacifist for life,” and then later went to film school in Paris. She labels herself an Arab Jew. Documentaries about the culture and the horrors of the Middle East have been her forte.
Her Wall opens with sections of the partition in question beautifully painted over by several artists, not unlike how the Berlin Wall was once adoorned. There are pictures of doves and dancers, lovers, tugs of war, bench-sitters, clowns, and trees. As the camera slowly scans the illustrations, two laughing Israeli children are heard being interviewed. They talk about how they’ll hide behind the wall when the Arabs start shooting.
Next we see the new sections of the wall going up, ashen slab after ashen slab, slowly blocking a beautiful vista until it vanishes from sight entirely behind unending grays.
Bitton then interviews Arabs who are helping build the wall (what other jobs are available to them?), Arabs who can no longer get to their fields because of the wall, plus Israelis who support its construction and others who think it’s a plain silly waste of money and/or a hindrance to peace.
Bitton, in the end, offers no alternative to the wall. She has no suggestions on how peace can be achieved in the Middle East, but then who does? Her film does, however, brilliantly demonstrate how this barricade is a metaphor for all that is wrong in the area. Sadly, it’s a concrete metaphor.
Director: Simone Bitton
Copyright © Brandon Judell 2005
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