Film Reviews and Discussion.
Dir: Dror Moreh
Duration: 101 minutes
Flawed documentary that promises much and delivers some. Director manages to get six former heads of the Israeli security agency, the Shin Bet, to break their silence.
There is no humour in The Gatekeepers. Neither should there be. From the moment the screen opens up to military footage and the killing of an insurgent, the tone is set for 101 minutes in the company of serious talk and matters of serious concern.
It was a coup of extraordinary measure that director Dror Moreh managed to secure such a vast number of heads of the Shin Bet to speak about their tenure at the helm of one of the most controversial security agencies in the world – an agency that is both feared and respected in equal measure. Moreh has said that it was the snowball effect of having so many different voices from the Shin Bet that enabled him to make this documentary. It appears that safety in numbers was indeed what liberated these individuals to talk so extensively and with such candour. Their reflections upon both their time in charge and also their views in moving forward are startling in their consistency against each other.
As can be seen from the credits, this is a film that has been made with Israeli backing. Therefore, one should be advised that this documentary does not provide a particularly grilling attack on Israel and the impression, ultimately, is that of a pro-Israel piece of work. Some insightful questions are missing from the interviews. There are times where more persistent and incisive questioning could have resulted in a more satisfying document of the story and history. At various points, there is a disappointing shirk away from what would have been invaluable.
Over all, The Gatekeepers is often compelling, occasionally dull, but vacates the screen offering a haunting refrain. It is a lesson in the understanding that the harsh decisions taken in life have repercussions that echo down the years. Mournful reflections permeate and dogmatic solutions cripple progress. Violence breeds violence and the fear of a ceasefire from one and not the other is the shackle to restrain a peaceful outcome.
This is not as successful a film as that of 5 Broken Cameras, which really should be seen if anyone wishes to see matters from the street and from a member of the Palestinian public. That truly is an essential viewing experience. The Gatekeepers, on the other hand, is interesting but altogether less than the sum of its parts.
If you like this, try this: 5 Broken Cameras (2012); As stated in the review above, this is a vital and outrage-inducing document of what it is to be a Palestinian living on the West Bank. Be prepared to be startled and angry at the examples of injustice that are occurring in the modern world with nary a limit on their number or any intevention. 5 cameras break and each one had a tale.
The trailer for The Gatekeepers can be found here: