Beneath the Silence (הלומים), directed by Erez Mizrachi and Sahar Shavit, offers a portrait of a man suffering from shellshock. There have been other Israeli feature films about shellshock, especially dealing with the aftermath of the bloody battles of the Yom Kippur War. Different from the others, however, this film is about a young father who is suffering from shellshock during a triumphant and heroic period following the Six Day War, when no one had yet understood the illness or developed any strategies for helping him. This is a subject that is still relevant to the Israeli reality today.
The film opens with an authentically-evoked and difficult battle scene which takes place on the final day of the Six Day War. Menashe is a young field commander and he is stuck in a trench with his best friend next to him. When his friend is killed, as a result of a direct order that he had given, he is hit with terrible guilt and shellshock.
Now, 6 years later, before the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Menashe’s son Shlomi is having his 10th birthday. It is painful and difficult to watch as Menashe is deteriorating and suffering before our eyes. In a very heartfelt plea for help, his wife Dafna goes to the army to beg that someone do something for her husband’s illness, but they tell her that there’s nothing to be done.
There are multiple artistic elements to this film – stunning photography using soft focus and often shooting from above. The filmmakers have also chosen to use allegorical images such as Shlomi’s long hair which represents his individuality and there is a reference to the sacrifice that our soldiers are forced to make – Menashe, in his despair, is clinging to metal bars that form a cross.