“Incitement” by Yaron Zilberman, is a nerve jangling and haunting film about the assassin Yigal Amir who killed Yitzhak Rabin. The film was given an Ophir (an Israeli Oscar) award in 2019. The film builds slowly in steps—sneaky and deliberate—but is unrelenting and utterly compelling at its conclusion.
It is the early 1990s, the era of the Oslo Accords. Yigal (Yehuda Nahari Halevi) is a young law student, slightly awkward. At a talk by a Rabbi he hears that a Pursuer is a Jew that helps Palestine and that under the law, he merits killing.
When he returns home, the TV blares loudly, showing Rabin and Arafat close to a peace deal with President Clinton. Such imagery irks him and turns his stomach. At school he meets the friendly and open Nava (Daniella Kertesz) and they agree to date a bit. When Yigal brings Nava to meet his family, Mom (Anat Ravnitzki) goes ballistic, thinking Nava an elitist. Yigal ignores his Mom as he is in love. Yigal meets a young man, Avishai Raviv (Raanan Paz), and they form a bond over right wing ideology. They agree to meet regularly. The two talk of weapons.
At home once more the TV enthusiasm over Rabin disturbs him.
He talks with Nava and declares his intent to marry. She draws back saying that she needs more time.
Yigal is offended and becomes incensed, calling Nava a poor settler who is ignorant in politics and a bad match. Repulsed, Nava walks quickly away.
He approaches the Rabbi who spoke about killing, who smiles and says he was joking.
Gradually Yigal Amir becomes a bit like Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver.” He plays with a Beretta and becomes obsessed with Rabin the traitor. The film also recalls “Scarface” with its scary Giorgio Moroder tones whenever Yigal’s eyes narrow in hate.
Similar to “Taxi Driver” and “Joker” Yigal is patronized and romantic love is unattainable. As with the characters in these films, this man drifts to the right and becomes consumed. But what ultimately drives Yigal to make his final decision? We do not know for certain, but one can assume it was about self-esteem and fear. The loss of love may have been the catalyst.
“Incitement” is a true story and a dark moment in history. Amir is not sympathetic, but one can clearly see his shift to right wing fanaticism. If just one moment was altered for Amir perhaps he would have taken the moderate path.
For raising these issues within a backdrop of fundamentalism, Yaron Zilberman’s film is magnetizing from the first second to the very last.
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