Rabin, the Last Day: Buried hope
by Bénédicte Prot
- VENICE 2015: With his film, Amos Gitaï leads an enquiry into an event which leaves us with a bitter and lasting taste of the beginning of the end
We all remember those 26 seconds that changed America, those images, filmed on Super 8 film one day in November 1963 by a certain Abraham Zapruder, that the entire world, stupefied, watch and re-watched again and again until nauseous, to try to understand how, that day, it lost hope to a certain extent. A similar story is told by Amos Gitaï in Rabin, the Last Day [+see also:
film profile], co-produced by Israel and France and being screened at the 72nd Venice Film Festival, which opens with a few seconds of film hastily shot in Tel Aviv on 4 November 1995 during a peace protest, which actually ended up marking the obliteration of all hope that peace would one day become a reality.
On that day, the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was killed, shot down by an Israeli extremist, and with him, died the glimmering soul of his country. Because he courageously tried to bring about the Oslo Accords, despite the seclusion that came with the endeavour (the images of this man, elected by the people, who couldn’t even get himself heard at the Knesset are deeply moving!), chanting and persistent religious people, who Gitaï doesn’t hesitate to ridicule, developed such a strong hate of him that with a few pathetic sophisms and a few bouts of moaning disguised as scientific psychological analysis, they succeeded in going against their most sacred texts.
Not without first allowing former president Shimon Peres to express his admiration for Rabin, Gitaï launches into a 153-minute-long enquiry featuring a number of reconstructions, played by actors: that of the investigation led by a commission set up specially after the event, of the actions of the ultra-nationalistic group of extremists that Yigal Amir belonged to, the insane killer, an inept tool used to bring Likoud to power, the party of the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu...
The investigation, if truth be told, is no less absurd, and instead of “really examining the conscience” of the country, goes round and round in circles, from one bewildering interrogation to the next, into the security measures taken that day in the square that now bears Rabin’s name, as if they were the problem. Also, as one of the characters says at the beginning, everything is already there “in black and white”, captured in those terrible seconds of video in which those fateful gunshots can be heard as we see the death of a possible peace process.
And all the while, one face remains absent from the reconstructions: that of Yitzhak, replaced by emptiness and suffering. It’s with this pain and stink of the end of the world that Gitaï leaves us, with the words of Léa Rabin, the woman who was by his side: "I don’t even feel anger, she says, just pain". On 4 November 1995, a young madman opened fire on peace, and the citizens of Israel and the world watching their televisions that day, eyes glued to the screen, their vision clouded by tears, knew in an instant that no investigation would change this cruel truth: from that day on, Israel and the rest of the world would “never be the same again”.
(Translated from French)