Dawn, Palestine, 1947
by Amos Lassen
Romed Wyder’s film, “Dawn” is a psychological thriller based on the novel by Elie Wiesel. The story takes place in Palestine in 1947, during the British mandate period as Zionists are fighting for the establishment of a Jewish state. When the British deny entry to the survivors of the concentration camps coming by boat to Palestine, they become “enemy number one” of the Zionist project. A member of the armed Jewish underground is sentenced to death by the British authorities and in return, the resistance kidnaps a British officer. The insurgents spend the night together, awaiting the outcome of the negotiation. If the British hang their friend at dawn, one of them will shoot the British officer held as a hostage.
Four comrades in arms attempt to influence the young Elisha, to make him overcome his conflicts of conscience and fully commit to their cause. In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “Dawn” sheds a new light on a key moment in history that allows for the resituating of the current political disputes. The film is a frightening and lucid journey into the mind of Elisha (Joel Basman), a young Zionist terrorist who is consumed by doubt and haunted by the ghosts of an ever-present past.