Skip to main content

THE BIG DIG

Israel, 1969 (MIFF 1970, Programme C)

Director: Ephraim Kishon

A lunatic escapes in a milk van which drops him in the midst of a road building team from which he steals a pneumatic drill and starts to dig in the main square of Tel Aviv. Police stop the traffic in the belief that he is working for the council, and pandemonium breaks out. The mayor orders an inquiry into who ordered a canal to be dug through the middle of the city, and accusations fly between departments like memoranda. No one acknowledges responsibility until heads of departments begin to suspect that someone is carrying out a redevelopment plan without their knowledge. So they compete for the credit, sending bulldozers and workmen, who join in digging the canal until Tel Aviv becomes another Venice. When the mayor opens the first regatta, he is interrupted by a municipal clerk who has discovered the truth. So he is taken to the asylum, leaving the lunatic still at large ....

For the first time a technically flawless pic has been produced by Israelis on a major scale. And out of Israel has come a picture which has nothing to do with Jewish suffering .... Kishon's script sometimes carries his satire too far, almost into caricature. But most of the time he remains within the boundaries of the human and possible. The realm of the possible is, of course, the pertinent, frightening aspect of satire. But director Kishon is constantly aware that satire works only as long as it is funny.

Lapi in Variety

A humorous but biting send-up of bureaucracy gone mad, directed with great zest and vitality.

Edinburgh Filrn Festival programme

See also...

ERVINKA

Ervinka is a smart young man with a healthy inclination towaids laziness — a sort of Tel Aviv Till Eulenspiegel. He and his friend, Joseph the peddlar, engage in a senes of adventures propelled ... More »

THE POLICEMAN

Azulai is a warm-hearted elderly Israeli cop, proud of his uniform, but too naive to discover an obvious culprit and too weak-hearted to arrest him. ... With qualities like these, it is no wonder he ... More »

My Wise Daddy

A brief, popular propaganda film on family planning. ... More »

It Helps to be Mad

A commentator, travelling through New Zealand's lake district with a vintage and veteran car rally, becomes involved with vintage cars himself. ... More »

High in the Himalayas

A record of Sir Edmund Hillary's expedition to the remote Khumbu area of the Nepalese Himalayas, where he instituted a program of aid to the Sherpa people. ... Cine Golden Eagle; Alpine Award, Trento ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director