Campus Life: Policeman Review

Alex Farris, Contributing Writer

Nadav Lapid’s 2011 drama film “Policeman” gives an unsettling insight into the struggles and anxieties of modern Israel. Lapid achieves this through his depiction of an Israeli anti-terrorist unit juxtaposed with a group of young activists and revolutionaries. These two storylines eventually converge in a suspenseful and violent climax.

“Policeman” is organized in three different sections, the third being the convergence of the characters introduced in the first two sections. The film begins with a portrait of the character Yaron (Yiftach Klein) and his relationship with his elite anti-terrorism unit. Yaron is immediately situated as the alpha-male in the unit. In the first scene of the film, the audience observes five men as they bike through the sprawling Israeli countryside. The men bike towards the camera, creating a shallow depth of field in which Yaron’s face is shown in a close-up, while the rest of his unit appears blurry in the background. Yaron is given the strongest sense of identity, and throughout the rest of the film Lapid includes several scenes that emphasize Yaron’s strong physique and sense of personal responsibility over his unit. Yaron’s unit faces trial due to unnecessary civilian deaths and injuries during one of their anti-terrorist operations. The first section of the film deals with how the unit addresses and copes with this trial, with Yaron handling most of the responsibility and action.

The film then somewhat abruptly transitions into its second section with a focus on a group of four young radicals who are upset and angry with the large gap between the rich and the poor in Israel. The radicals are primarily led by the beautiful poet Shira (Yaara Pelzig), and the brooding yet authoritative Nathanael (Michael Aloni). Shira passionately strives for a strong and representative manifesto. She brainstorms the slogan “It’s time for the poor to get rich, and the rich to start dying.” She believes these words will help spearhead a movement towards a violent revolution against Israel’s rich upper class.

As the film progresses towards its violent climax in the third and final section, the conflict between the young radicals and the police force becomes unique to Yaron and his unit. The anti-terrorist unit is accustomed to taking action against threatening Palestinian forces, but now they are faced with a violent confrontation against their own people. In the final minutes of the film, Shira exclaims to the police, “You are also oppressed!” In the final moments of the film, Yaron, a strong patriot and lover of his homeland, is visibly disturbed by this harsh realization.

“Policeman” will be screened Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Campus Theatre. The screening is co-presented with Campus Jewish Life, with support from the Kalman Jewish Life and Learning Fund, and Hillel. It is a great opportunity to see a film that was only just recently released in the United States.

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