"First of all, we see both sides as ours."
anomie | 12/24/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In the documentary film "Wall", filmmaker Simone Bitton travels to Jerusalem to chronicle the building of the immense concrete wall that separates the Jewish population from the Palestinians. The wall--which is about 500 kilometers long--is built at the cost of $2,000,000 per kilometer, and it winds in and around Jerusalem.
The film begins with one section of the wall and just the voices of children--many of Bitton's interviews do not include the faces of those filmed. The children speculate about the ethnicity of the filmmaker before she begins to ask them questions about the purpose of the wall. From the voices of these children, Bitton moves onto the construction of the wall itself--it's made from huge interlocking concrete slabs, and the camera focuses on the placement of these slabs until the entire skyline and the beautiful view is entirely blocked.
"Wall" contains moments of startling purity--a young Israeli settler named Moti speculates exactly how he'd attempt to create peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and he also expresses skepticism that the wall will achieve anything except further alienation. One Israeli drives out into a Palestinian area that was empty of settlements in 1942, but now the farmers in a Palestinian village are separated from the olive trees (and the rotting crop) on the other side of the wall.
Other parts of the film are weak--the film concentrates with an almost morbid fascination on long camera shots--we watch a bus unload, a wall being built, and equipment preparing the land. It's no doubt all relevant, but after a while, such prolonged study of the mechanics behind building the wall becomes tedious. Several scenes show Palestinians trying to get through checkpoints, and while the nuisance, delays and refusals to entry were obvious, the system itself (why some were allowed and not others) remains vague--additional background explanation here would be helpful.
The best scenes in the film occur when Bitton interviews the Israeli Defense Minister. He deserves some points for staying put in the chair when he clearly can't wait for the interview to finish, and his remarks are the most significant in the film. He frankly admits to Bitton that Israel considers all the land is theirs--"First of all, we see both sides as ours." Plus he insists on calling this concrete monolith a "fence." When pinned on the semantics, he argues, that there's "no need to get ideological about different names." Just one look at the design system of the wall is enough to convince the rational minded that semantics, in this case, are an intriguing issue. For anyone interested in the subject, it's an interesting--but flawed--film to watch. Many of the static meditative shots should have been replaced with explanations, background information and maps, and "Wall" would be a better film as a result. As it is, the film still makes a powerful argument that the wall is just "explusion in disguise." In Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles--displacedhuman"
Protection or partition?
Daniel B. Clendenin | www.journeywithjesus.net | 01/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 2002 Israel began constructing a 400-mile "fence" along the Green Line that separates Israel and the West Bank. This "wall" consists of 25' concrete panels, trenches, endless razor wire, guard towers, sensors, alarms, cameras, radars and check points. It is only 50 yards wide, but in fact it symbolizes an immense geo-political gulf. Director Simone Bitton was born in Morocco, educated in Paris, and resides in Jerusalem. Fluent in Hebrew, Arabic, French and English, she uses the crude architecture of this "wall" as a rich metaphor of the political debacle in the region. Yes, in some sense the wall "protects" Israelis from terrorists, but of course it also imprisons them, exacerbates the strife, and partitions normal citizens on both sides, almost all of whom who were interviewed in this documentary hate the wall. "Without peace," remarked a foreman on the job, "this fence is worthless." In Hebrew and Aramaic with English subtitles."