The scene from Electric Blanket where Gil Alon plays a disgruntled doctor and delivers a spine-tingling monologue about prolonging one’s life expectancy and the horrors of life and death in the hospital’s A&E

Assi Dayan
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As far as my dad was concerned, Electric Blanket was his finest work. It was the film that was nearest and dearest to his heart. Oh, and I absolutely get why. The film itself – in terms of script, storyline, and directing – plays out pretty chaotically. There’s pandemonium everywhere and events seem haphazard, inconsequential and with little rhyme or reason, just like he was in life. At any rate, personally speaking, Electric Blanket, I feel isn’t his best film. That being said, if you were to lay out all his films, side by side, and break them down into scenes then this is the one that contains the finest scene he would ever write and direct.

The scene in question is the one where the three chavs – Levy the pimp, played by Shmil Ben-Ari; Moshe, his bodyguard, played by Uri Klauzner; and the grand high whore-queen, played by Rivka Neuman – end up in A&E after getting beat up at the ‘Hooker Desert,’ otherwise known as Tel Baruch Beach. There, they meet the haggard and worn on-call doctor at the end of a long shift, and his tether. Fed up with life altogether, the doctor proceeds to deliver a monologue about “prolonging life expectancy,” old age, and the misery that comes with it. It is a spellbinding monologue, delivered with the utmost care and precision by Gil Alon. In fact, the performance was so captivating that my father would boast how Hanoch Levin (whom he considered, along with David Avidan, “the official moderniser” of the Hebrew language) once told Rivka Neuman – who had starred in many of his plays – that he had watched the film and that if there’s one enviable monologue he wishes he had written himself, this was it.

I imagine that the moment my dad heard from Rivka Neuman what Hanoch Levin had told her, must have been one of those rare moments when he felt genuine professional satisfaction. For the most part, and I daresay – to a chronic extent – he went through life feeling pathologically, professionally dissatisfied, and a through and through failure. As someone who knew him well, I’m going to indulge in a bit of ‘shrinkery’ here and argue that this was in fact the driving force that kept him in constant action mode. Hounded by a permanent sense of failure (which was all in his head and nowhere else), he wrote and wrote and wrote nonstop, as if he never did quite figure out that this sense of satisfaction he was chasing, he wasn’t going to get through awards and applause. That sense of satisfaction is a philosophy; it’s an attitude, a decision one takes.

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