The Israeli movie Beaufort is an extremely strange movie. I guess it is by far one of the strangest movies I have ever seen. I can whether say if it was good or bad I just found it interesting but hard to watch as it is unfortunately a bit boring. The movie is based on Ron Leshem’s eponymous novel Beaufort. Both are based on true events. I have a feeling that the book is much better. It won Israel’s top literary award and a prize for military literature. The movie was an Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Picture in 2008 and won a prize in Berlin as well.
The Fortress Beaufort was occupied since the last war between Israel and Lebanon in 1982. In 2000 it is still an outpost of the Israeli Army. They want to abandon it but constant shelling by the Hezbollah makes this very difficult. A handful of soldiers is still defending this outpost, waiting for orders to withdraw. The Hezbollah hope to kill as many of the soldiers still posted on the fortress in order to make it look as if the Israeli Army was forced to retreat and was actually fleeing.
The tensions are pretty high. Insubordination, fits of anger and sheer helplessness make the situation hard to handle. The men start to cry easily or get annoyed for no reason. When a guy from the bomb squad gets blown up, the morale sinks below zero.
All this doesn’t make this a strange movie. What is strange is how slow it is. The slowness does make you feel how claustrophobic it must have been in this bunker to which they added layers and layers of concrete ever year. It’s like a labyrinth.
The music which is almost nonexistent and very sparse contributes to this claustrophobic ambience.
The strangest however is that this movie rather feels like a theater play. There are so many indoor scenes in which one or two characters slowly discuss things that they could easily make a play out of it.
At moments I was reminded of Dino Buzzati’s Il deserto dei tartari aka The Tartar Steppe (which I love) or even Waiting for Godot. There is a senselessness and futility in the endeavor to guard a meaningless fortress that gives this movie an existential feel.
I found a trailer but the music has nothing to do with the movie. Most scenes are totally silent or featuring a somewhat horror movie like soundtrack. Still it gives you an idea. As said, it is absolutely not bad, just not my cup of tea.