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3.3 out of 5 stars55
3.3 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 31 May 2011
As mentioned elsewhere, this film takes the claustrophobia of 'Das Boot', then ratchets up a gear to the cramped insides of a modern battle tank, during the recent Israeli incursion into Lebanon. There are the usual war film stereotypes, the brave commander, the scared new boy, the abused prisoner, etc. However, that should not put you off. What sets this above recent war stories is the unusual technique of filming almost all the story through the electronic gun sight of the tank, often in night-vision. This makes for real suspense, and a lot of surprises. The actual issues of the war, with Syrians fighting against Israel, and Christian Lebanese militia helping the Israelis, is dealt with very lightly. But this film is not really about the war, it is about the close proximity of tank crews, the stifling atmosphere inside the hull, the noise and confusion of sudden, short firefights. It does not have a satisfactory conclusion but then war seldom does. Recommended for war film fans rather than serious students of Middle East conflict. I for one cannot recall a film like this. It is certainly not 'Sahara',the old Bogart tank film, and has no relationship to 'The Beast', a film set in Afghanistan with a Russian tank crew. It is truly a one off, seen through the sight.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 August 2010
Samuel Maoz's film, winner of a Golden Lion at the 2009 Venice Film Festival, is a powerful account of the start of the Lebanon war in 1982. Only 20 years old at the start of the war, the director was himself a gunner in one of the first Israeli tanks to go into the region, and filmed almost entirely from within the confines of an Israeli Defense Force tank, Lebanon consequently offers what feels like a disturbingly realistic first-hand experience.

The fact that the viewer remains locked in with the tank crew for the duration of the film doesn't mean that there's a lack of incident or spectacle in the film, rather it just becomes an even more intense experience. Be thankful also that you remain inside the tank, because it's slightly better than what can be seen of the horror that is taking place outside from the view of the gun sights - but only slightly. The crew are faced with a great deal of confusion over what exactly is going on, receiving conflicting orders and directions, wandering into dangerous territory with no clear objectives, not even sure who it is they are fighting. What are Syrians doing there, who are the Phalangists, and whose side are they even on?

It's a highly immersive experience and an effective one, just as in their own way both Waltz with Bashir and Beaufort were in their own deeply personal and stylised accounts of the same war. The fact that there are several recent films each with very personalised accounts of the same conflict testify to how just how traumatic and impressionable an experience the war was for a generation of young Israeli men, the consequences of which are still clearly very much relevant today.
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on 8 January 2015
Seemed quite direction less for most of the film with most of the characters seemingly not sure what they were doing half the rime or why. I assume this was intentional and probably a quite realistic portrayal of war for IDF national service soldiers, however it just made a very dull and uninteresting film with an ending that was the most anticlimactic I've seen in a long time.
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on 9 October 2010
It was with great anticipation that I was going to view this one. Could this be the the movie for us tankers? They were going to show how war is from the inside of a tank and it was my tank, the Centurion! It was also made in Israel and if anyone knows about tank warfare it is them. Unfortunately, nobody asked any tankers. The Director instead took what I suspect is the inside from a submarine in the first world war and tried to make people believe that this was a tank! There was even water inside! After one minute I was so angry that my family who were watching this with me started covering their ears! There is no room in a tank to walk around as they did here! Tankers wear helmets with radiospeakers built in so they can hear. No one can talk inside a tank in combat without radio and telehelmets! The actors in this film would have been knocked senseless within a hour of driving across the terrain. Of course you can fire the gun without running the engine! There is no room to drop into the tank killed soldiers or prisoners. The list can go on and on.

Ok, leaving aside that this was not a tank but more of a submarine did it show tank warfare? No, absolutely not. The Infantry in this movie more or less acted as they should but the tank...No one sends a tank alone into a fight. Tanks stick together in platoons, companies and battalions. This was just silly.

The drama, what about that? Did it show the stress and fatigue of tank warfare on the crew? Considering that the whole film covered about one day and that they were in very little combat the crew showed the strain as if they had been fighting for weeks. But on the other hand if they are sent into combat alone in a WWI submarine in Lebanon maybe that is understandable.

Any political overtones? Hard to say. We were never informed about the war or why they were fighting. We meet an Israeli tank crew that were psychologically unfit from the beginning, an Israeli platoon commander that was very one dimensional, one Syrian commando that was treated fairly well by the Israelis, one falangist that was horrible and of course the usual innocent civilian casualties. Yes, war is horrible, that is why we should avoid it. Was this worse than any other war? No.

I am still waiting for anyone to make a movie about tank warfare from the tankers point of view. If you watch this you are still in the dark.
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on 3 February 2016
I wanted to know what conditions were like for a tank crew. Lebanon answered a lot of questions for me of the tensions and difficulties. A very good and informative film
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on 18 July 2013
Excellent, atmospheric film. You do not see the tank from the outside until the end of the film, which adds to the drama. You feel that you are in the tank with the crew and it's closed claustrophobic interior. External views are all through the gunner's sight, which adds to the immediacy of the various situations. The only criticism I have is that with the professionalism of the IDF, there is NO way the interior would be that dirty!!
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on 20 November 2010
I was truly shocked by just how disappointing this film was. The DVD box was emblazoned with 5 star reviews by several well-known publications, but exactly why I still do not know. It was terrible. Unfortunately amazon does not provide a 0 star option so I cannot truly express how disastrously bad this was in a graphic format. The premise is brilliant, a moody & claustrophobic account of a gritty war in a unique visual style, something like 'Das Boot' mixed with 'Beaufort', but it definitely wasn't. This is all just surface gloss. The first time I watched it and got to the end, I genuinely thought I had dosed off in the middle and missed a bit. Upon rewinding and checking, I was horrified to discover that the film really did comprise of an hour and a half of badly filmed and over used war cliches with a narrative that, rather like the damaged tank the protagonists inhabit, lurched from one smoldering ruin to the next.

Dodgy camera work twinned with some terrible archive sound usage (I was waiting for the Wilhelm scream) and a repetitive "go here, do that, look at the dead people, oooh isn't war nasty, LOUD BANGS AND EXPLOSIONS, go here, do that..." script that would give anyone post-traumatic stress disorder really REALLY started to get to me pretty quickly. For a conflict that was so horrendous, so complicated, and had so many sides, this film gloriously sweeps over them with daring generalizations and by confining the debates to unanswered plot-holes.

All the above points make this a bad film. As a bit of a war film buff, this makes it one of the worst war films I have ever seen. The bloody tank on the front cover ISN'T IN THE FILM. The bloody helicopters on the front cover AREN'T IN THE FILM. Not a lot happens in this film at all. The special effects are pretty budget (the night vision looks like it was done on windows movie maker) and the giant set that represents the interior of this tank is not only vacuously large, it also wobbles when people move about it in. One review described it as "more brilliant than Hurt Locker". I think that just nicely sums everything I have been saying about the film and the reviewers too.

No realism, no finesse, no narrative, no point. A repellently bad movie.

Buy Beaufort instead! Beaufort [DVD] [2007]
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I struggle to recall any film where all the action takes place in the cramped confines of a tanks interior. Of course one inevitably thinks of submarine films, like "Das Boot" and "The Enemy Below", where the crews worked in a similar claustraphobic world. The tanks gunsight is used much like the submarines periscope in viewing all the action. This time it is not toy ships being blown up, but more visceral images of war. The images seen resemble those that an anti war correspondent might try to obtain, in the same vein as many of those shocking pictures from the Vietnam war. The Israeli director Samuel Moaz has based the film on his own horrifying experiences as a tank gunner in the 1982 Lebanon war, so he comes well qualified. But such credentials do not give an automatic licence to make a truly memorable film.

In the film we follow a tank crew as they back up a squad of Israeli paratroopers who have been given a mission to clear a town. But resistance proves to be much tougher than expected, as they face fanatical Syrian fighters. There are some memorable scenes that are clearly very personal to Moaz, where the tanks gunner has to make tough decisions between life or death, as both innocent and enemy come under his cross hairs. As they forge deeper into enemy territory, the fighting becomes more intense with casualties on both sides. But most of the victims viewed through the gunsights are civilians, with one startling exception being a dying donkey. The film builds to a strong ending, with the last scene being one that would have made Van Gough himself smile.

"Lebanon" won the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2009. Although it is not a bad film is is hard to see how it merited this honour. One critic said the film was "more immersive than Avatar and shot on a fraction of the budget". Whilst the second statement is undoubtedly true, I feel that the first is not. Although "Avatar" may have its faults, no one could accuse it of not being immersive. Whilst the use of filming through the gunsight is a good device, the film follows the well worn anti war path, and does not really bring anything new to the war movie genre. After a while the gunsight begins to stretch credulity with the images it captures. The message that "War is Hell", is not a new one. We are well aware of this fact without the constant bombardment of visceral images. The film has its moments, but in the large canon of anti war movies, which has many fine films, it does not show anywhere near enough creativity to lift it above the merely average.
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Set inside an IDF tank during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon this film attempts, with success, to give an idea of the claustrophobia, confusion, and fear arising from fighting inside a large tin box with indifferent air conditioning, vision and lighting. The crew of the tank seem rather hopeless: a mixture of Dad's Army's Private Pike and a worker's soviet. They are by turns confused, truculent, and ready to run. However, for all the awesome power of the tank it is fighting in a town and depends on its little brothers - the paratroopers led by the ferocious Major Jamil - to protect it in an environment where it is blind. As if the crew had not enough to contend with in their own bickering they meet everything from a Syrian RPG operator, through some Phalangists to fedayeen using civilians as shields (though with indifferent results for themselves). The only conclusions I reached were that being a civilian in a shooting war is dangerous and that I think I would prefer serving with the Nine Mile Snipers than the Sprockets. Effective cinema but not one that will get repeat viewing.
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on 29 August 2015
I have never given a movie a 1 star rating, but this movie is just so bad, I had to do it. The entire movie plays out inside a tank, the dimensions of which are huge judging by the cavernous interior. The main hatch is never locked down and sees more traffic that the ticket gate to the Lonon underground. The gunner and driver seem to run everything on their own, the crew commander does nor even look outside. Totally unbelievable, typical PC anti-war drivel
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