Friday, October 9, 2015

Movies with Abe: The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers

The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers
Directed by Richard Trank
Released October 9, 2015

Two years ago, Moriah Films released “The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers,” an in-depth look at Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir, two early prime ministers of a young Israeli nation, adapted from a nonfiction book written by Ambassador Yehuda Avner, who served in a number of capacities under five different heads of state. The film, while interesting, never reached a truly invigorating point, and it’s reassuring to see that the second part of the cinematic adaptation of Avner’s book, featuring the late politician in interviews throughout, is a much stronger and more magnetic project.

The focus of this chapter is on two other prime ministers, Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin. An excitable Avner introduces the two intimidating figures and explains their origins and how they came to be elected and to serve, sprinkling the historical narrative with some choice anecdotes, including a memorable visit to the White House in which Rabin made President Ford believe that it was Avner’s birthday and that’s why he was getting special attention from his tablemates rather than have the Israeli press catch wind of the fact that Avner had ordered a kosher meal and Rabin hadn’t.

The film is laced with such moments of humor and lightheartedness among stories of noble political leaders from a number of nations coming very close to reaching monumental peace agreements only to be assassinated by insurgents intent on continuing tensions and worsening them. It is incredible to see just how much of the film deals with foreign policy, and how big a role the United States and its leader play in everything. The transition from Ford to Carter is particularly striking, and Avner paints a relatively neutral portrait of their attitudes on Israel as defined by their words and actions at the time.

Avner, who passed away in March at the age of eighty-six, brings to life two long-dead prime ministers whose left immense and unforgettable legacies. His energy and amazement at the way that these two men overcame many struggles to take on the difficult task of leading their country towards some semblance of harmony within its borders and with its treacherous neighbors is infectious, and the celebrity voices of Michael Douglas and Christoph Waltz are less prominent and distracting than they were in the first film. This second half proves far more engaging and magnificent in its own right, thanks in large part to the energy of its narrator.


No comments: