Dawn full movie review - A subtle and moving portrait of the Israeli underground
How does one tell a story of the Irgun?
Well, we could ask Elie Wiesel, who wrote DAWN in 1960. What qualified him? He translated for the Irgun while he was in France after the war. He knew their rhetoric, and their Betar based revisionist Zionist approach.
His book brings he as the young survivor of Night into the moral conundrum explored so well by Camus in Les Justes - Does the end justify the means?
Romed Wyder has taken this moving, short and intense interior dialog, and externalized the ethical debate with very convincing, charismatic, and strong characters which require the Big Screen. Joel Basman is stellar as the fragile and innocent Elisha aka Elie Wiesel. Jason Isaacs demonstrates his force and charisma as the ambiguous prisoner. (without a wand and special effects). Sarah Adler is seductive, motherly, and Matta Hari rolled in one. Morris Cohen explodes, cajoles, and browbeats...and the framing by Ram Schweky - seriously, in the cinema for this film. Plus the music by Bernard Trontin - refined, subtle, taking full form as the film closes.
What is particularly powerful is Wyder's opening which places us inside the life of Elisha/Elie, and the inclusion of scenes based on Irgun training, and Irgun history. For the defender's of Begin - don't worry - this very focused and moving film helps us feel the force of that moral question the length of the whole film - Does the end justify the means?
A beautiful film, and a tribute to the excellent writing of Elie Wiesel, and Billy MacKinnon's adaptation.