Welcome to hell. June 1982, in an alleged attempt to quell PLO rocket attacks (sound familiar?) and deal with a burgeoning Palestinian refugee problem, Israeli Defence Forces invade southern Lebanon. Many civilians die and many young Israeli military conscripts are marked by the carnage they witness. One such man was Samuel Maoz, the writer/director of Lebanon. Back then Maoz was part of a tank platoon which followed in the wake of a paratrooper platoon as they bloodily swept through the towns and villages, their only view through the gun sights.
Like its two First Lebanon War-set predecessors – Beaufort and Waltz With Bashir, Lebanon is a muscular, technically bravura piece of film therapy. Thirty years on from the events depicted in the film (which he contends are all completely true) Maoz is clearly still seeking answers and redemption from the horrors he witnessed. As with Wolfgang Petersen’s seminal Das Boot, claustrophobia is everything here, the violence and horror is kept at one remove but it’s happening and these gauche young men know they are the possible agents of genocide. It’s lean, powerful stuff aided by a terrific cast and an economy of scale on Maoz’s part. The stench of petrol and phosphate almost lifts off the screen. Sam Fuller would have approved.
GFT, Glasgow & Cameo, Edinburgh, from Fri 14 May.