Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. Italy/Israel/France, 2002. Agav Hafakot, Arte France Cinema, BIM Distribuzione, MK2 Productions, MP Productions, R&C Produzioni. Screenplay by Amos Gitai, Mordechai Goldhecht, Marie-Jose Sanselme, based on the novel by Haim Hazaz. Cinematography by Giorgos Arvanitis. Produced by Amos Gitai, Marin Karmitz, Alain Mamou-Mani, Laurent Truchot. Music by David Darling, Manfred Eicher. Production Design by Eitan Levi. Costume Design by Laura Dinolesko. Film Editing by Kobi Netanel. Cannes Film Festival 2002. Toronto International Film Festival 2002.
The title is the name of a ship that brings refugees to a newly forming Israel following the devastation of life for Jews in Europe during World War II. People barely clinging to survival arrive in a land already overcome with strife, shot at by the English while all around them are Arabs fleeing from Jewish settlements. Encounters between all groups bring no end of conflict, captured beautifully by Amos Gitai’s incredible talent for long tracking shots that are performed smoothly and encompass a wide scope of personal and political action. None of the characterizations really stick, however, either because they are drawn too vaguely or because Gitai, in his desire to not be manipulative, stays too far away from them and the action is only periodically involving. The reasonable running time of less than two hours feels like it takes ages to get itself over with.