Had enough of war films from the list yet? Well, too bad; there’s still a few left to see. It was with some trepidation that I entered into Amos Gitai’s Kippur, mostly on the grounds that I felt I had already seen from every conceivable angle what film could do with the concept of war, so I felt there was really nothing else that films like Kippur could offer me. Turns out, in a few ways, I was right. Frankly, I’m surprised this survived the restructuring of the new edition; I thought for sure that this would be one that the list could reasonably lose in favor of some other more worthy entry. Kippur isn’t a bad film, but with what it does, it doesn’t do all that much differently than other films.
The film follows a pair of war recruits who have signed up for service when the 1973 Yom Kippur War breaks out in Israel, and their experiences serving in a medical evacuation team after being detoured away from their search for their original unit. The film is largely based on Gitai’s own real-life experiences in the war, and thus serves as a sort-of autobiographical film; in particular, the helicopter crash that serves as the climax is based note-for-note on a real helicopter crash Gitai survived in the war. Gitai’s style of filmmaking seems to be a weird sort of hybrid between the exacting compositions of Wes Anderson and the hyper-realist depiction of war as seen in Saving Private Ryan. Where Gitai’s film differs, though, is that he chooses to have long and steady camera shots that last for quite a while, whether the scene being shown is the men at their base or on the fields of battle. What I ended up with after seeing the whole film, however, was really very little. I considered it, and came to the conclusion that the film’s structure, that of low-key moments of humanization between the characters alternating between the scenes of harrowing wartime med-evacs, ultimately did little to disguise the fact that the film didn’t have a whole lot to offer. Aside from the opening that gets the characters to the medical regiment, and the ending sequence that brings their on-the-field duties to a close, the whole middle of the film is far too one-note, alternating between the low-key and high-key scenes that each bring the exact same thing to the table for an hour-long experience of essentially watching the same thing. That, and the film seemed to go on just a little too long after what was technically the climax of the film, which made for a film that just stretched itself too far in a number of directions without filling in the stretch marks with other bits of full material.
That the film does much of what other films of its kind do was not a concept that missed me. Gitai definitely seemed to be inspired by Saving Private Ryan, as well as potentially a few other films; near the beginning, for example, two of the main characters try and drive through a clustered traffic jam that seemed straight out of Godard’s Week End. Still, though, this just seemed like a film that Gitai wanted to make for himself, and not for an actual potential audience, and it comes off as such too strongly. I wouldn’t say not to see this, but neither will I say that you need to see it; it really offers nothing new or different to the table, and as such it is yet another superfluous entry in one of the major genres of the list. Well done, but nothing anyone hasn’t seen before.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10