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Israel, 1955 (MIFF 1957, Programme 42)

Director: Thorold Dickinson

To one of the foothills dominating the approach to Jerusalem are to come four Israeli volunteers. Their leader has ordered them to defend this Hill 24 against the Arabs until morning when the cease-fire imposed by the United Nations commences. So they prepare to set out, the reasons for each of them joining the war of independence are disclosed in three episodes. In the morning, the truce team finds their four dead bodies on Hill 24. This, the first feature film from Israel, was produced under trying physical conditions at a most confused political period. Despite these difficulties, however, Thorold Dickinson has made a competent job of assimilating in a brief time significant aspects of the scene about him. (The episodic treatment gives a halting quality to particular sequences. but the film remains a notable achievement.) There is also the magnificent composition of the attack on the Old City of Jerusalem, the surrender to the Arabs and the processional quality of the exodus.

That the film makes a strong impression is essentially due to the sense of enterprise that informs it. The director has met the technical challenge impressively, bringing off some elaborately staged action and giving the film as a whole a solid, expert finish. Also, his response to the material is honest and enthusiastic. A sympathy for this cause comes strongly through and, combined with immediacy of atmosphere, creates breadth and forcefulness.

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