It’s the start of the first Lebanon war and a a paratrooper platoon and a group of soldiers inside a tank are set to stroll through a hostile town in what seems to be an easy mission. Their main objective is to get to secure a town, previously bombed by Israeli army, at the orders of Jamil (Zohar Shtrauss), but soon things don’t start to go as smooth as planned when things like inexperience begins to take toll on the mission and the soldiers inside the tank Asis (Itay Tiran), Yigal (Michael Moshonov), Shmulik (Yoav Donat), and Herz (Oshri Cohen). To make things worst they are confined inside a tank as the firefight intensifies and the panic starts to set in.
In recent years we’ve seen the similar types of films, which employ a minimalist set as the main set of the film. Movies like Buried and Phone Booth have many similarities to what Samuel Maoz employs in his movie. The movie is set inside the tank and the viewers only get to see a few glimpses of the outside world when the driver occasionally looked through the scope to recognize the terrain. At first it may not sound as enticing, but the whole idea of the minimal set is to see the evolution in the human psyche as the events begin to be more dangerous. It’s a system that works if employed correctly and with the appropriate subject it can hook an audience. Samuel Maoz does indeed show us the dire effects war conflict can create in just a few hours.
The film doesn’t take very long before it begins to show the harsh reality that is war, but the film mainly focuses on how the soldiers within the tank. The film feels claustrophobic all through the movie and it captures each stage of the soldiers’ breakdown. The first part of the film shows how easily inexperience can bring down the feeling of invincibility that the soldiers feel for being inside the tank. As the firefight intensifies, one after the other begins to breakdown, from panic to fear to a realization that they might just not make it another day. Samuel Maoz provides a very discerning look how each stage breaks down a person. However, Maoz does a great job putting together a setting that will most likely lead any person to a dark path. Each character brings a different dynamic and personality that it is interesting to see how each begins to lose their grip.
Lebanon arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 1.78:1. The film features a de-saturated look to give it that dirty look. Colors appear washed out and bland taking on a yellow tint due to the soldiers being confined inside the tank, but the very few outside shots features natural looking colors. Skintones reflect the surrounding colors within the tank. Black levels are well reproduced, but they become overwhelming in a few scenes that force details out of the picture. Detailing is good with close ups, but the dark picture makes it tough to judge. When looking through the scope we see a different picture, the outside is filled with detail rich surroundings. The image does have a few soft shots here and there. Some ghosting is apparent from time to time. Some of the issues found within the film are not particularly the transfer’s fault but that of the original material.
Lebanon arrives on Blu-ray with a 5.1 Hebrew DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. This is an excellent audio presentation, while it is not an all explosive loud track it does an awesome job engulfing the viewer. Dialogue is clean and clear featuring great prioritization. The track excels as soon as the tank begins movie, all the small sound effects begin to make the tank come alive. All the small nuances are captured clinks, clanks, and everything in between is excellently captured and reproduced putting the viewer right inside the tank. The LFE output is always providing support giving it that more realistic feel. Lebanon sounds great throughout.
Notes on a War Film – This is a making of featurette and it simply covers how the film was made using such a small quarters.
Previews – Movie trailers for A Woman, A Gun, and A Noodle Shop, Animal Kingdom, Inside Job, Get Low, and Another Year.
Lebanon is a great film. Sure, at first sight it’s difficult to become attract to it, but its characters a great role with excellent performances that it is tough to watch as the anxiety slowly takes over them. The film is not visually appealing, but there is more to it than just the way it looks. The Blu-ray features a decent video transfer and a very pleasing audio track. The supplements are disappointing to say the least. Lebanon is worth at the very least a rental.