Volume 74, Number 45 | March 16 - 22, 2005

Koch On Film

By Ed Koch

Walk on Water (+)

This Israeli film is considered a major step forward for their cinema industry because of its cast, its visual beauty and its serious theme. Although it is not a superb film, it is good one and well worth seeing.

The story opens with Israeli Mossad agent, Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi), on an assignment which he completes to the agency’s satisfaction. He is, however, left mentally exhausted. Like James Bond without the futuristic technology - except this is real life - his job is often to kill.

Eyal is then asked to search for a high-ranking Nazi, responsible for killing millions of Jews. After World War II, he found refuge in Argentina, whose government was sympathetic to Germany. He thus escaped justice for his actions. The paradigm example is of course Adolf Eichmann.
Eyal’s newest assigned quarry is a Nazi in his 80s who long ago disappeared and was thought dead. He meets the quarry’s grandchildren in Israel: Axel (Knut Berger) who is a homosexual and his sister Pia (Carolina Peters) who works on a kibbutz in Israel, probably out of contrition. (In real life, a significant number of Germans took that road to redemption.) Axel is in Israel to persuade his sister to attend their father’s birthday party. She is estranged from the entire family.

Eyal is given the cover of a tour guide. After a tourist trip through Israel’s antiquities and restaurants, they all end up in a gay nightclub where Axel meets a Palestinian Arab and has a one-night fling with him. Much later and now in Germany, a sickening scene involves Eyal, Axel and Pia at a subway station in Berlin where three gay bashers attack a group of transvestites who have just said hello to Axel, an old friend. Eyal’s responding actions during that scene rival that of a Samurai warrior.

Later, they all go to Axel and Pia’s parents’ villa and estate near Potsdam. The father is played by Hanns Zischler and the mother by Carola Regnier. Both are excellent in their roles as wealthy Germans with a past. (Their estate looks a little like Wannsee where Heydrich and Eichmann planned the Final Solution for the Jews. This is not part of the film).

Several surprises occur before the film ends and it is all a good ride for the audience. The acting of all the principals is excellent. My major criticism with the film is that the dialogue is occasionally insipid and not up to the heft of the movie. (In English, German and Hebrew with English subtitles.)

- Ed Koch

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