Lebanon Causes J. Hoberman and David Denby to Plagiarize Each Other Uncontrollably

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08/05/2010 4:01 PM |


Samuel Maoz’s film Lebanon, opening here tomorrow following a local premiere at last fall’s New York Film Festival, is based on the director’s experiences as a young tank gunner in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon; it takes place almost entirely inside the tank, with the outside world seen through the gun sights. In the lead review in this week’s Village Voice, J. Hoberman describes the at once claustrophobic and sensational war movie as

… at once political allegory and existential combat movie—Sartre’s No Exit as directed by Sam Fuller.

Meanwhile, in the Goings on About Town blurbs in this week’s New Yorker (it’s easy to overlook, which is why no one seems to have mentioned this yet), David Denby says, more simply,

It’s Jean-Paul Sartre meets Sam Fuller.

No Exit, and its trapped scenario as microcosm of human existential despair, was surely an inevitable comparison; so too Fuller, for a movie compressing into 24 hours as much horrors-of-war iconography and archetypal-bordering-on-corny war-movie character types moral dilemmas as possible.

Or possibly all film critics just hang out in the lobby after screenings and plot the consensus in murmuring voices punctuated by sinister chuckles.

2 Comment

  • Actually, I was plagiarizing myself, see “Five Must-See Films From the New York Film Festival” (www.villagevoice.com/2009-09-22/film/five-must-see-films-from-the-new-york-film-festival/): “Maoz’s recollection of his wartime experience, set inside a tank heading north on the first day of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, should be compared to No Exit, as directed by Sam Fuller.” I may be lazy but I’m not THAT lazy. JH

  • Yes, of course, I remember the piece but not, obviously, the formulation’s initial appearance.

    Now we actually have something to discuss, namely: does this mean that Denby reads the Voice, or that he doesn’t?

    We can only hope his Google Alerts are as fined-tuned as yours, and that a definitive explanation for this massively significant coincidence is forthcoming.