I found that Thorald Dickinson’s Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer (1955) epitomizes a number of important topics on early Israeli Cinema. Thorald Dickinson was a British director who directed a number of Israeli and non-Israeli war films, including The Red Background (1953), a film on the Israeli infantry, and The High Command (1937). Hill 24 was an internationally successful film, as well as one of the first high budget films to be produced entirely in Israel. The film depicts a number of Israeli soldiers in an armed struggle to defend a hill during the 1948 War of Independence. The film switches between the story of the struggle, as well as a number of flashbacks to the personal narratives of the different characters.
The characterization of the different soldiers represents a fascinating theme within the film. The four characters are diverse, ranging from an American Irishman, to a Sephardi. Every fighter has a different path and reason for their involvement in the war, yet the amalgamation of several diverse personal narratives still leads to a characterization of the Israeli struggle for independence as a “just war of the people”. Although many critics will point out that the film is very subtle in its choice to primarily narrate the Israeli point of view, the imagery is still present. Furthermore, there is no direct representation of the Arab antagonists (soldiers) within the film. They are only represented from far away battle scenes in which they are primarily identified by their opposition to the Israelis, and also by their kuffiyas. Although this characterization may be simply to maximize the time and focus for descriptions of the film’s main protagonists, the mere fact that there is no focus on the antagonists certainly represents a strong Israeli point of view.
Here is a short film review from 1955 in the New York Times on Hill 24!: