Wedding in Gallilee

"No Celebration Under the Heel of Our Enemy"
or "None Under the Beak of King Stork"

The persistence of Arab communities inside Israel despite the exclusion from various civil rights reserved for the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi Jews is a struggle much admired by director Michel Khleifi, whose 1987 film Wedding in Gallilee focuses on a wedding celebration held by two Arab families inside Israel under the watchful eye of the Israeli military governor and his forces. The film commands superior aesthetic camera movement; quick, tight editing; an amazing cast of strong character types; and a heavy rhythym soundtrack which all serve to heighten the action of the story even if one does not understand the premise of the plot or the state of Israel. The state of Israel is briefly given some exposition at the beginning as jeep patrols order the Arab community indoors to obey curfew laws. Nine tenths of the film treat only the story of the wedding itself, yet metaphors are presented throughout which describe the condition of the racial conflict that is tearing Israel apart. The "fine print" of the film outright criticizes the machinations of the West in destabilizing Israel, when the military governor arrives amidst an entourage of american jeeps and BMW's. The comic relief of the film, the senile grandfather also repeats throughout " First there were the Turks, and they were awful and then there were the English and they were worse." Aesop would say that Israel wants its "King Log" back instead of Her Majesty's illegitimate heir, "King Stork."

The subplot of the Uncle's favorite horse who is let loose by the boys into a minefield is the most powerful metaphor of the film and imports the stasis of the best of the heritage of Israel paralyzed amidst the military constraints of what directions tradition is now allowed to move into. This scene reveals the sympathies of the film most powerfully by showing the soldier's unsucessful attempt to free the horse by shooting to frighten him one way or another in contrast to the Arab grandfather's brave navigation of the mine field and the gentle coaxing he secures the horse with. The Arabs then have an appeal to attributes of occult knowledge and not the modern urban skilled worker they will need to enter the arena of the Israeli world.


Last Updated on 03/06/00
By JR Kerr
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