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Beaufort a.k.a. “Bufor”

Reviewed by: Eric Bell

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Action, Drama, War
2 hr. 5 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October, 2007 (festival)
January 18, 2008 (limited)
DVD: September 30, 2008
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Distributor: Kino International Corp.

1982 marks the beginning of the Lebanon War, Israel’s battle for peace in Galilee. The story of “Beaufort” describes the final days of the Israeli occupation of Beaufort Castle, an ancient castle having been traded from one occupying country to another for a thousand years. The IDF (Israeli Defensive Forces) held Beaufort castle from 1982 until May of 2000. As orders slowly trickle into the command station at Beaufort, the garrison commander Liraz Liberti comes to grips with the realization that their time there will be finite.

War, of course, is a difficult thing to understand and embrace. Certainly it is a biblical occurrence and marks the passage of evil being thwarted by God and His sovereign plan. It makes one wonder how that plays itself out in the modern world. For Americans, the reality of war on our own soil no longer exists. The American Civil War is the last time that a declared war and subsequent ensuing battle have occurred here. This insulates most of us from what war is about and how it feels to be in the middle of it. This is in no way addresses the acts of war that Americans have felt on a single or dual account domestically. For most Israelis, war is a daily and ever changing way of life. Having been involved in one sort of battle or another since its post-World War II birth in Israel, all generations have undergone the reality of living with the consequences of a persistent enemy along with death and destruction that are a part of war.

“Beaufort” introduces us to the warriors that have lived their lives fleeing, fearing or participating in war. Liraz, the last commander of the Beaufort outpost struggles with the orders that are dispatched to him to carry out. In the beginning of the movie, he battles with the strategic method of dealing with entry to his outpost and the road side bomb disposal that must continue. While he is on the spot with his men, watching them live and die, command seems miles away without a true tie to these vulnerable warriors. After seeing a newly arrived bomb disposal technician succumb to the poorly laid plans of the distant commanders and politicians, Liraz begins to question his own responsibility and allegiance to what seem to be impotent orders. It is good to see Liraz stick to orders as an obedient soldier and to stand up to the men in his unit that are ready to mutiny. These are characteristics that the Lord asks of us and present a good example.

The questioning of leaders continues through the ranks as other subordinates struggle with their participation in these ineffectual commands. Some seem to be relieved and ready to abandon Beaufort. However, Liraz sticks with his adherence to military order and faithfully fulfills the ridiculous and consequential commands. In the end, he manages to stay true to his training, but with the price of unnecessary causalities. On a number of occasions, Liraz is able to confront his superiors concerning these difficult orders and is able to express himself, albeit without any real effect. However, through these dialogues, we are able to get extra glimpses into the war itself and the history that contributes to the battle.

There is some thought provoking moments and conversation within this film. Unfortunately these examples are slow to unfold and somewhat under emphasized. It is definitely not a typical war movie with tons of actions scenes or emphasis on casualties and gore. There is some bloodshed and war related scenes that are not the best for the weak stomach or non-violent. However, it is necessary to display the battle field per se in an effort to give the viewer some amount of empathy and an ability to relate to the participants.

Language is mild for a war film. The entire film is subtitled in English so that you will end up reading foul language as opposed to hearing it. The typical smattering of curse words is included. While no displays of sexual images, there is at least one reference to a soldier visiting his girlfriend to participate in fornication. Again, not gratuitous, but ungodly nonetheless. The Lord’s name is abused on more than one occasion and always seems like such an easy thing to avoid by the producers.

While I enjoyed this film, many will find it slow and empty. I gained much by reviewing some history lessons after the movie, giving it some additional foundation and emphasis. Many Israelis must have found it enjoyable as it earned a number of theatrical awards in Israel. If you enjoy delving into places of the mind that you have not been in reality (the military or a war), then this movie may prove to offer some fodder for you. I wouldn’t suggest it to younger kids under 12 because of language, war violence and references, though I could see some parents having excellent though provoking discussions under the right circumstances. If you are in a contemplative and mellow frame of mind, I would recommend seeing this film.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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