Berlin Film Fest 2018: Thunderbolt No More – A Revisionist Entebbe Film That Sucks Wienerschnitzel

“Sluggish” – The Guardian

“Underwhelming” – Variety

Oh! The halcyon days of the heroic Golan-Globus film, Operation Thuderbolt, which reenacted the Israeli rescue of passengers held captive in 1976 in Entebbe, Uganda… as well as the made for television: “Raid on Entebbe” and “Victory at Entebbe.”

One of the celebrated films at the Berlinale this week – the 2018 Berlin Film Festival – begs to differ…. it depicts a different version of events.

For starters, the trailer and posters highlight two of the posh hijackers… not the victims… not the negotiators… not the commandos.

In José Padilha’s “7 Days in Entebbe,” which opens in North America on March 16, Yoni Netanyahu (acted by Angel Bonanni) is killed at the beginning of the raid, and not at the end. (as dramatized in the earlier Operation Thunderbolt). According to the film’s researchers, this is more accurate.

Padilha (of Robocop 2014 and Narco’s fame) said at the Berlin Film Festival (see link below) that he preferred to rely on the version of the story from people who “were there.” Namely, Amir Ofer, who was one of the first Sayeret Matkal commandos at Entebbe and a paid adviser on the Padilha’s production. He felt older films focused on the military operation and not the interactions and thoughts of the terrorists. Also, the screenwriter Gregory Burke gives the hijackers more of a backstory and focuses on their motivations. For example, two of the German hijackers, Brigitte Kuhlmann (Rosamund Pike) and Wilfried Bose (Daniel Bruhl), are shown to be driven by their anger. ideology, and self-loathing.

What comes through loudly is the director’s desire for negotiations and his hate of fascism. He would have rather seen Israel and France negotiate more with the terrorists than approve a raid. He also criticizes politicians who feel they will lose face if they negotiate. The insertion of dancers and interpretive dance sequences – especially at the height of the “action” – are supposed to reflect that… somehow. He wants the dancers to strip away their “orthodoxy” and change how they act. He wanted the dance to be a metaphor for Rabin’s desire to reduce the centrality of the mility in 1976, and Peres’ desire to grow the military budgets.

Actually, the film should be retitled… IMHO… “Mein Meinhofs” or “Let’s have sympathy for the terrorists.”

Speaking at the festival, after a premiere screening of the film, Padilha drove home his political agenda, saying, “In this recurrent conflict, it’s very easy for politicians to present themselves as protecting people against the enemy. But once you frame the relationship as enemies, it becomes hard to negotiate, and that’s still true today. There is a constant state of fear in both Israeli and Palestinian populations because of the conflict, and this fear is preyed upon by right-wing politicians — kind of like Trump who is going to build a wall to defend American from whomever, I don’t know. That kind of thing is common in politics… ” Padilha also asserted that Bose, a Marxist and bookseller, was worn down by the hostages in their ideologigical arguments with him during the week of captivity, which helped save their lives and perhaps convince him not to kill hostages. Actress Rosemunde Pike said that she worked under the assumption or the doubt that maybe the German terrorists did not kill hostages since they decided not to kill, and not that they did not have time.

(7 Days in Entebbe is produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Kate Solomon, Michelle Wright and Ron Halpern for Participant Media and Working Title Films.) Focus Features is the U.S. distributor.

A link to the press conference is HERE

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