Rafi Bukaee’s Avanti Popolo: Telling the War from the Traumatized Perpetrator’s Perspective

  • Yael Munk


Yael Munk analyzes the Israeli anti-war film, Avanti Popolo (1986), and argues that its director, Rafi Bukaee, focuses on the enemy perspective in order to work through his own perpetrator’s trauma as a reserve soldier. Utilizing both the film and an interview from the director as analytical basis, Munk makes the convincing case that the surrealistic narrative of Avanti Popolo as well as its emphasis on the enemy is proof that Bukaee is processing his own trauma from the war and is commenting on the role of the Israeli military more generally. Using a discrete, more chronologically distanced, and more socially uncontested war in Israel to tackle this issue, Bukaee manages to evoke compassion, humanism, and pity for all those involved in war, including the perpetrator, as Munk displays.



I wish to thank my research assistant Sigal Yona for her precious work, my friend Ms. Maayan Miloh, Rafi Bukaee’s widow for the various conversations we held about the film, and Ms. Michèle Driguez from the Montpellier Festival in France for providing me with a copy of the original interview quoted in this article.

Works Cited

  1. Anzaldúa, Gloria E. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1999 [1987].Google Scholar
  2. Bukaee, Rafi. “Rafi Bukaee: Shylock du desert.” Interview by Michèle Driguez and Henri Talvat, Cinema Mediterraneen Montpellier. Actes des 10e rencontres, 101–7. Montpellier: Federations des Oeuvres Laiques de l’Herault, 1989.Google Scholar
  3. Bursztyn, Igal. “Promesse de Bonheur in Nowhere: Fantasies of Art and Beauty in Israeli and Palestinian Films—Part 2.” Deliberately Considered, December 13, 2011.
  4. Caruth, Cathy. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  5. Chapman, James. War and Film. London: Reaktion Book, 2008.Google Scholar
  6. Elsaesser, Thomas. “‘One Train May Be Hiding Another’: Private History, Memory and National Identity.” Screening the Past 6 (1999): 16.
  7. Fisher, David. Morality and War: Can War Be Just in the Twenty First Century. London: Oxford University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  8. Gertz, Nurith. Motion Fiction: Israeli Fiction in Film [Sipur MeHaSratim: HaSiporet HaIsraelit VeYbudea LaKolnoa]. Tel-Aviv: The Open University Press, 1993.Google Scholar
  9. ———. “Avanti Popolo.” In The Israeli Cinema Book [Sefer HaKolnoa HaIsraeli], 2015 (Hebrew).
  10. ———. “Between This Place and Other Places: The ‘Ethical Turn’ in Recent Israeli Cinema.” In Traces of Days to Come: Trauma and Ethics in Contemporary Israeli Cinema [Ikvot Iamim SheOd Iavohu: Trauma VeEthica BaKolnoa HaIsraeli HaAkhshavi], edited by Nurith Gertz and Raz Yosef, 213–42. Tel-Aviv: Am Oved, 2017 (Hebrew).Google Scholar
  11. Haaretz. “Speech by Anwar Sadat in the Knesset.” Accessed October 1, 2007.
  12. LaCapra, Dominick. Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.Google Scholar
  13. Neale, Steve. Film and Hollywood. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.Google Scholar
  14. Ne’eman, Judd, and Yael Munk. “Avanti Popolo: Battle Cry of the Fallen.” In Film and the Middle East and North Africa, edited by Josef Gugler, 177–86. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011.Google Scholar
  15. Preminger, Aner. “The Arab Other in Israeli Cinema and Discourse.” Journalism and Mass Communication 2, no. 2 (February 2012): 412–20.Google Scholar
  16. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. New York: Simon & Shuster Paperbacks, 1992 [1609].Google Scholar
  17. Shammas, Anton. “He Confused the Roles” [Hu Itbalbel BaTafkidim]. In Avanti Popolo, 7–17. Tel-Aviv: Kinneret Publishing House, 1990 (Hebrew).Google Scholar
  18. Shohat, Ella. Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989. Google Scholar
  19. Shuv, Yael. “The Palestinian as a Jew: A Repeat Dive to Avanti Popolo.Cinematheque no. 202 (January 2017): 8–10 (Hebrew).Google Scholar
  20. Turner, Victor. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-structure. New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers, 1969.Google Scholar


  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. USA, 1968.Google Scholar
  2. Apocalypse Now. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. USA, 1979.Google Scholar
  3. Avanti Popolo. Directed by Rafi Bukaee. Israel, 1986.Google Scholar
  4. Beaufort. Directed by Joseph Cedar. Israel, 2007.Google Scholar
  5. Beyond the Walls. Directed by Uri Barabash. Israel, 1984.Google Scholar
  6. Birth of a Nation. Directed by D.W. Griffith. USA, 1915.Google Scholar
  7. Cup Final. Directed by Eran Riklis. Israel, 1991.Google Scholar
  8. Every Bastard a King. Directed by Uri Zohar. Israel, 1968.Google Scholar
  9. Field Diary. Directed by Amos Gitai. Israel, France, 1982.Google Scholar
  10. Lebanon. Directed by Samuel Maoz. Israel, France, Germany, United Kingdom, 2009.Google Scholar
  11. On a Narrow Bridge. Directed by Nissim Dayan. Israel, 1985.Google Scholar
  12. Platoon. Directed by Oliver Stone. USA, 1986.Google Scholar
  13. The Deer Hunter. Directed by Michael Cimino. USA, 1978.Google Scholar
  14. Waltz with Bashir. Directed by Ari Folman. Israel, France, Germany, USA, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, 2008.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yael Munk
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Literature and ArtsThe Open University of IsraelRaananaIsrael

Personalised recommendations