Film Review: “7 Days in Entebbe” (2018) ★★★★


When I watched “The Oslo Diaries” at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year in Salt Lake City’s Park City, I was amazed by the character of Yitzhak Rabin. The Prime Minister of Israel was portrayed as someone who demonstrated force, loyalty, respect, and love for the people of his country. As I was trying to shape his personality for myself, I watched the latest film by José Padilha – “7 Days in Entebbe” which is based on true events of 1976. This film helped me to find answers to several crucial questions.

Being in a politician or involved in politics is similar to being held as a hostage. There is one difference, though. In the rescue operation goes wrong, the hostage loses their life. The same goes for a politician who has to make a hard decision and give an order to execute a dangerous mission. Their past, present, and future in politics will be destroyed forever if something goes wrong. Thus, this will be a political suicide. But this could’ve been avoided if a different decision was made. There is an interesting point this film states loudly: “There’s no peace without negotiation.” Yet, how can one handle a situation where the lives of 248 passengers kept hostage are at stake? There is no easy answer to there.

My question here is what have we learned events like this? Looking back to 1976, how much has our society changed or improved? Have we indeed changed for better? Sadly, I think we have not done much since then, and I doubt we will. Maybe, we all have to look back at our nightmarish history. People, who have made difference in our modern history live long only in the history books. Their actual lives, sadly have not been long enough to cherish the moments of victory they have fought for.

“7 Days in Entebbe” is not the first drama to feature the events of Operation Entebbe. This is a fairly solid film, if not very strong and competitive to its forerunners. Set in 1976, two Palestinian and two German terrorists hijack the Air France Flight 139 en route from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens. Shortly after the takeoff, the terrorists begin their rally against the passengers, pointing at them their guns and promising to blow out the airplane if they do not cooperate. Their demand is simple – 5 million of ransom for the aircraft and the release of 53 Palestinians from Israeli prison. While they think their plan may work, there is one problem they have missed – Israel does not negotiate with terrorists under no circumstances.

Yitzhak Rabin – the Prime Minister of Israel and Shimon Peres – the Minister of Defence have several heated discussions over the rescue operation. Both of them know that the loss of lives is inevitable. However, Rabin still tries to negotiate with the terrorists, while he is being reminded by his cabinet that he cannot do that. In the meantime, the German terrorists Brigitte Kuhlmann (Rosamund Pike) and Wilfried Bose (Daniel Brühl) are fairly sympathetic hijackers, who even allow a pregnant passenger to exit the plane by wising her good luck.

Through the spectacular dance elements, the film recreates the drama using music and beautiful choreography in a very poetic way. The story does not open up much about the hostages, which probably, is a tough card to play. As you watch the film, this decision of the creators feels right, since it is impossible to fit everything in a movie to satisfy every viewer. The last fifteen minutes of the film are the most unbearable to watch. If you get as carried away by the story as I do, you will feel in the skin of a hostage as well. At some point, I found myself barely holding onto my seat, with only one desire – the escape from the cinema.

In conclusion, it is strange to see so many negative reviews about José Padilha’s version of the Entebbe Operation. Right from the beginning it grabs the viewer’s attention and is capable of holding it until its final scene. I think the viewer should not look for perfection somewhere it cannot be found. “7 Days in Entebbe” is a film that has found its own way of creating a drama based on true events. It does concentrate on the political decisions and the hijackers, showing their emotional attachment to the hostages or the decision not to follow their initial plan if the Israeli government decides to fool them. All these elements are essential to this story, and to Rosamund Pike’s and Daniel Brühl’s characters, which I must admit, are fully unfolded without any questions.

Having said that, do not worry about the reviews you read about this film. You can simply disregard mine as well if you wish, and perhaps, you should. Because the whole idea of the film is to transport you to the place where those events happened. It is all about experiencing it with your own eyes instead of being told whether to watch it or not. However, the right state of mind and mood are important for enjoying it the way I did. If you leave the political opinion (if you have one) aside and picture yourself as a hijacker, as a hostage or even as Shimon Peres or Rabin, you will be able to get all the answers you are looking for. Then, you can compare the opinion you form by the end of the film with the one you had before watching it.

In the end, what does this film teach us? Too many things, I would say. Firstly, we see that hijackers may also have doubts – some of them are not as cruel as they appear. More importantly, there are decent politicians walking on our Earth. Sadly, they do not stay in politics long enough to bring the necessary chance for so many reasons. You can recall some of those by studying the assassination of John Kennedy or Yitzhak Rabin. You may ask why? Maybe because it’s not easy to achieve peace when the other person opposes it so much. And as long as there are people opposing it, events like the one in Entebbe will keep reoccurring. Therefore I would like to quote Don Miguel Ruiz, who said quite an important thing we all should think about all over again: “The human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake.”



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