Audio Commentary-Samuel Maoz, Director
|Year Of Production||2009|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Samuel Maoz|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Hebrew Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
On the 6th of June 1982 planes, tanks and troops from nearby Israel stormed into South Lebanon. The Three Day War had begun. Amongst those forces was a young man named Samuel Maoz. The effect of his exposure to battle during those short days was profound and led him to make Lebanon based on his experiences.
Lebanon won the Golden Lion at the 2010 Venice Film Festival. It gained a certain cache as a film set entirely in a tank, and some were quick to compare it with the German U-boat epic, Das Boot. The comparisons are probably only apt when it comes to the issue of tense confinement in a potential death-trap. So far as Das Boot is concerned, it was a film about dedicated soldiers pushed to breaking point through incredible stress. The soldiers in Lebanon are different. Instead of the heroes and well drilled fighters we are accustomed to seeing in military films these men are, truth be told, pretty inept and often cowardly. Were it up to me I wouldn't have let them walk my dog let alone take an expensive piece of military equipment into battle. Perhaps that is the point.
In the film we follow the crew as they accompany a squad of troops into a suburban area already pounded by rockets. The film is set in the dirty, oily confines of the tank and vision of the outside world is principally limited to a view through the gunsights of the tank.
The effect of the two techniques is a high level of claustrophobia as the crew turn to insanity as quick as a flash of a phosphorous shell and the bad decisions pile-up. The crew are all green including the commander.The film becomes a race against unknown odds to get out of the hostile township, where their tank is besieged, into the safety of the countryside. On the way they are exposed to scenes of death and despair.
Lebanon is not quite the war masterpiece its Venice recognition may suggest but it is nevertheless an intriguing sometimes tense watch. Many a time viewers will want to wrench the tank controls or gunsights from the hapless young men and take charge, Chuck Norris style. Perhaps, again, this is the point.
A final aside. I don't know who was responsible for the artwork on the rear of the DVD case but its depiction of a larger than life tank, surrounded by flames and attack helicopters is grossly confusing toa potential audience who might be expecting a blast-fest.
Lebanon was shot on digital video interspersed with 16mm footage. The latter is intended to give a rougher, battle look, and it achieves that end.
The film is presented on DVD in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.
Wartime, low budget and digital photography portend noisy rough-looking cinematography. Surprisingly, this is not the case. The digital camera work is superb and some of the images are extremely crisp.
The flesh tones, all greasy grimy looking, are also clear and accurate.
The colour palate is understandably limited however the use of striking colour is well handled. In particular the blood stands out against the dark background.
I noticed only a hint of compression in the film.
Fans of the movie will not be disappointed with this transfer.
There are subtitles in English which are clear and easy to read.
The prime soundtrack for Lebanon is Dolby Digital 5.1 running at 448 Kb/s. It features a veritable United Nations of languages including, Hebrew, Arabic, French and English.
There is also a Directors Commentary 2.0 track running at 224 Kb/s.
The 5.1 track is a must listen. The directors' intention was to put us into the tank and the track does a superb job of doing this by spreading the roar and grinding metal of the tank around the channels.
It is a loud and immersive track with engagement of the sub-woofer. That level of noise is offset by the moments of telling silence when the crew are waiting for something bad to happen.
The music is used sparingly but effectively.
|Surround Channel Use|
To start with there is a fine Making of featurette which includes interviews and on-set materials with the director, producer and cast. It is a rough-and-ready affair with nothing in common with a Hollywood EPK.
The Directors commentary track is an interesting affair. Maoz is at pains to tell us how the story is a true relection of the events that took place when he was a tank gunner in the First Lebanon War. The mistakes of the gunner in this movie were his mistakes, embarrassing though it must have been to admit. The commentary is part confessional, part making of and part behind the scenes. It is hard not to be moved when he says that when he returned from the War his mother hugged a different person. The boy who went to War was gone forever.
Maoz has a fairly strong accent but he speaks quite slowly to ensure all is heard.
This DVD has the same features as the Region 1 DVD although there are apparently a couple of textual extras on the Region 2 UK. Buy the local DVD.
Lebanon is a tense drama about the realities of war - that maybe most combatants, particularly conscripted ones, are just trying to get out of there alive.
The DVD looks and sounds very good and the extras are a nice accompaniment.
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|