Gitai’s Film ‘The War of the Sons’ (2009)

Gitai War of Sons Still

Jeanne Moureau in a still of Amos Gitai’s film ‘The War of the Sons’. Image courtesy of Amos Gitai.

The film La guerre des fils de lumière contre les fils des ténèbres (The War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness) is a recording of a stage production by the renowned Israeli-French filmmaker Amos Gitai (born 1950), which opened the Avignon Festival in 2009. It is based mostly on Josephus’s Jewish War, beautifully read by Jeanne Moreau, who could be seen as the narrator or as Josephus himself. The theme is historical: the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans (66–70 CE), the fall of Judaean political entity, the destruction of the Second Temple, and the story of Masada. The texts of the original screenplay (also written by Gitai) are recited by actors in several languages (French, English, Hebrew, even Arabic) and include quotes from other sources (mostly from the Book of Lamentation in the Hebrew Bible, and from the prophet Amos). The Jewish prayers for the dead ‘el maleh rahamim’ are also chanted. The play, first presented in the Boulbon Quarry in Avignon, is marked by powerful scenery and accompanied by impressive music. Gitai, who has defined Josephus as ‘one of my ghosts’, created this work of art in full awareness of its contemporary implications on Israel’s policy and spirit, striving toward the dissemination of his ideas and hoping to influence present day political reality.

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JRA entry contributed by Zviah Nardi