Monday, June 29, 2009

Songs Of Silence

Bikur Ha-Tizmoret (The Bands Visit)

Directed By Eran Kolirin

This film describes itself in it's opening as "a tale which probably didn't matter", and this is true, and it's everything that's good about this movie.
Few films can achieve being so restrained while still holding a command of attention, and "The Bands Visit", balances this perfectly.
This is the kind of film that gets it's laughs out of it's awkward moments, it's hishaps, and near misses, but no one is artificially cute, strange, or dramatic. They are all a little of each.
An Egyptian police band, gets marooned in the wrong town, and has to spend a day overnight with the locals, sleeping on couches, going to Roller-Disco's, impromptu dates, etc.
There are no grand speeches about tolerance, universal understanding, or human brotherhood, nor scenes of obligatory bigotry or hostility(not to say there aren't offenses and apologies.)
Instead theres a kind of tension in the atmosphere but also a stillness and emptiness that fills the screen.
There's a line I'm forgetting told by an Israeli to one of the band as he sits in his newborns bedroom, "Maybe your music can be like this room....still...and....full of... neither...uhm...happiness...or sadness...ya know know....uh...a baby's cry....and then....tones of loneliness...".
It's hard to capture in words someones inability to articulate them, but the film in this scene succeeds in expressing, the very space and sparseness the character wishes to communicate, but not just through, but in his pauses between them.
It's also worth noting that English serves as the neutral middle language which both the band and the townies, can speak.
And it's used to pretty good deadpan dramatic and comedic effect.
And when I mention this film in terms of bands and townies, it does seem like a mutely inverted tale rock stars in a small town.
Why do police need to play classical music, Dina (the lovely shop keep asks), Lt. Tawfiq answers "You might as well ask, why I man needs a soul?".
when the music does come together at the end, while the credits role, you get what he means.

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