Doron Solomons | Israel

Brothers in Arms, 2004

16 min

Courtesy of Sommer Contemporary Art

“Blood Brothers” is the Hebrew title of the video Brothers in Arms. In English—weapons, in Hebrew—blood. Two languages are not one. The film came out crowned with two names—one source out of many for comparisons. The accompanying captions are all in English, and justly so. The English gives the local an international flare.

The film begins with a declaration: “Not a political film!” thus forcing the viewer into a debate with himself before the film ever persuades him of anything. Some of the questions compressed into this statement are: Is it possible that not everything is political? Is there more to this declaration than mere irony? Is the non-political escapist? Is this declaration but wishful thinking that not everything would be political? Is everything, after all, indeed political? And the main question: Does political mean unequivocal, decisive, knowing, politically active, working toward change, banning and outlawing those responsible for the political situation? And also: What kinds of blindness does the political demand of us? And another calledfor, tough question: Do the advocate and prosecutor have to be two, or can they dwell in a single body, and therein debate with each other forever.

Doron Solomons, the filmmaker, has firm political views that naturally do not influence reality. The world continues on its course, and this includes the film that has demands and intentions of its own, and is not committed to any understandings with the director.

It seems that the filmmaker himself is overwhelmed to discover, with pain and fear, that his views are presented in the film as one option among many; that there is no victory by a knockout, at times not even by points. In view of the artistic result, he realizes that he is wrestling with himself more than he would have liked to. It is a film without victors. Even the defeated are not granted a sure advantage. It is not a film against, but rather in favor of rummaging in the depths of contradictory opinion. It does not seek political balance. It even loathes such balance, yet desperately indicates the conflict’s intricacy and interminableness. It substitutes the wrath of denunciation-not without apprehension-with the agonies of judgment and decision.

The film’s main image is that of Siamese twins, brothers-inblood who are also brothers-in-arms. It is a verbally simple and visually rich image that introduces the figure of symmetry into a political discussion. It strikes the filmmaker’s political opinions, for it does not allow the casting of unequivocal blame on one party. One may distinguish between the evil brother and the good brother, yet having two heads and a single body makes it a package deal-rothers-in-blood. Symmetry is indeed the enemy of decisiveness, but it is also the mother of maturity and sober insight. The great value of symmetry lies in the fact that it is unacceptable to both parties.

The inner wrestling which acquires a dual-face is the essential difference between propaganda and a true political film. Unfortunately, we have become accustomed here to seeing propaganda films and overlooking the political failure and the simplicity inherent in them. We have become accustomed to seeing justice that has no brothers, lonely righteousness without blood relatives. All these fears are adjoined here by the fear of propaganda.

Yair Garbuz
Excerpt from “‘Back Home’: The Right of Return Home”