A documentary by Cam Christiansen. Rating unavailable
No matter how the intractable conflicts of the Near and Middle East are approached, they will remain ultimately incomprehensible, even to—or perhaps especially to—the people who live them every day. So it’s been helpful to see a recent number of more experimental approaches to the Israel-Palestine conundrum.
Like Waltz With Bashir and other, more recent abstractions of the region’s bizarre history, Wall is an animated take on real-life events. The film is Canadian Cam Christiansen’s opening-up of a stage monologue by British playwright David Hare, best known for his screen adaptations of relatively recent think pieces like The Hours, Denial, and The Reader.
Using motion-capture animation to unify and enhance wildly different situations, the new film builds on Hare’s trips to Israel and the Occupied Territories, already explored in his 2000 Via Dolorosa. As you’d expect, this Wall is built around the concrete partition, which has grown more than 500 kilometres since then, and has doubled the length of the Green Line separating the two alleged states.
Travelling by car through, and sometimes not through, various checkpoints and landmarks of the cement panels that snake ominously through formerly holy landscapes, Hare—sympathetic to all sides—shows where extra barriers are going: mostly around hilltop Israeli settlements, deemed illegal by the UN. More than 100,000 trees and countless hectares of arable land have been destroyed to make way for these Trumping eyesores. In Tel Aviv, some of his liberal Israeli friends admit that the “security fence” has seen a decline in suicide bombings. But Scottish historian Neill Lochery, also on hand, declares the massively expensive project a Berlin-like “white elephant”, obsolete before it began, because groups attacking Israel had already changed tactics by then.
No one here ponders what life will be like when the scandal-ridden Netanyahu and his signature architecture are long gone—mainly because most Israelis, shadowed by traumas of the Holocaust, have become “victims of their own anxieties”, unable to locate the trust necessary to live in an open society. Christiansen’s animation technique, resembling that of The Tower and Waking Life, is somewhat uneven. It’s all in high-contrast black-and-white, however—until vibrantly coloured graffiti suddenly splashes across grey cement, reminding us that even with all our man-made divisions, we must remain wholly human.