Saturday, March 30, 2019

Cam Christiansen's animated film of David Hare's thoughtful, rigorous play, WALL

The Israel/Palestine situation, with emphasis on the 435-mile long wall that helps divide the two peoples/nations, is the subject of the beautiful, sad, moving and thought-provoking new animated film, WALL, written for the screen by David Hare and based upon his 2009 play of the same name.

As animated and directed by Cam Christiansen (shown above, right, with Mr. Hare) in black/white/gray tones to which but a trace of color is very occasionally added -- only toward the conclusion do we get a riot of gorgeous color, via the graffiti that decorates the Palestinian side of the wall -- the film's loose yet rich visuals seem to TrustMovies an excellent complement to the very-much-worth-hearing ideas and arguments presented here.

Playwright Hare, who narrates a good deal of the movie, knows better than to simply take the expected left-leaning stance toward the whole situation, in which the "solution" of the wall has proven to be every bit as much of a problem. According to the International Court of Justice, the wall is contrary to international law, yet we see an animated version of the discotheque suicide bombing that was a major precursor to the wall and can understand why it has been built.

The movie is a journey, both geographically (inside the wall and in the Palestinian-occupied area outside) and emotionally/intellectually via the thoughts and ideas of a number of people we meet (Israeli and Palestinian), during which we come to better understand the reason for and the results (some of them perhaps unintended) of the wall.

As you might expect from Hare, the "take" on all this is measured, low-key, intelligent and necessarily problematic. As one of many speakers we hear from during the course of the film, a presumably left-leaning Israeli, notes early on, "Eighty per cent of the terror attacks against Israel have stopped since the wall. Am I not meant to be pleased by this?!" Yes. But.

For the Palestinians who must earn their living, most of whom we must assume are law-abiding and peace-loving, the wall means daily injustice writ large, via the checkpoints through which they must pass, usually waiting in impossibly long lines, often deliberately kept in that state. Does it really come down to death via terror or hardship via the wall. As Hare notes, the first is irreversible; the second, while reversible, has so far not been.

From famous Israeli writer David Grossman and a Palestinian taxi driver to a Hamas torture technique used against those suspected of informing and our arrival in the huge but now-barely-there city of Nablus -- the animation for which is simply stunning -- this journey is a consistently compelling one.

The finale, by the way, is a supreme example of art triumphing over oppression -- even if only in our minds and hearts. Ctrl + Alt + Delete indeed.

Wall, a National Film Board of Canada release that runs just 81 minutes, has its theatrical premiere this coming Wednesday, April 3, in New York City at Film Forum for a one-week run. The entire run is being shown free of charge, by the way, thanks to the generosity of the Ostrovsky Family Fund. Tickets are available via the Film Forum box-office on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of show only.

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