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Castle Keep

Castle Keep

Any thoughtful film about the Israel-Palestine conflict naturally takes futility as its main subject; and acclaimed Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar has a central premise in his new film Beaufort that perfectly encapsulates not just the futility of war but also the cycle of retribution and violence that will seemingly forever engulf the Middle East. Set in 2000, Cedar’s film, based on a novel by Ron Leshem, depicts a troop of Israeli soldiers assigned to watch over the outpost castle of Beaufort, located in Lebanon. As much a symbol of pride as a necessary strategic base, Beaufort, built in the 12th century by Crusaders, was claimed by the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the 1970s, during Lebanon’s Civil War, before being captured by the Israeli army in 1982. For the next eighteen years, Israel commandeered the castle, its existence as an image of superiority and dominance greatly controversial, especially since the soldiers assigned to watch it had been regularly the targets of Hezbollah ambush.

With the dubious, crumbling bastion, located in distant mountains overlooking southern Lebanon and northern Israel, as its backdrop, Beaufort goes on not to dramatize a mundane tale of indomitable soldiers in wartime, but rather investigates the inner lives of men caught between pragmatism and entrenched patriotism. Figuratively and literally isolated, the troops, led by the enigmatic Liraz (Oshri Cohen), while away their days and, more nervously, their nights in the labyrinthine bunkers and stone crevices of the castle. Click here to read Michael Koresky’s review of Beaufort.

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