Amram Amar
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“The first ever Israeli-made film that speaks and sings in Hebrew” – these are the words describing Ceasefire in the film’s opening credits. Written, shot, and directed by Amram Amar in 1950, this melodrama – set against the backdrop of the Independence War, went down in history as the first ever feature-length film to have been made in the State of Israel. Accordingly, one might say that Miriam (played by Esther Frieder, who later became Atya Simcha, Adv. Consultant to the Prime Minister on Promoting Women’s Status) is in fact the first female Israeli soldier to feature in an Israeli narrative film.

We meet Miriam at the height of a raging battle scene, standing right next to Gideon (Nissim Mizrahi) behind a stone wall, holding her rifle and shooting at the enemy. When Gideon goes off to top up his ammo, two keffiyeh*-wearing [traditional Arab headscarf] soldiers suddenly appear and kidnap Miriam. “Help! Help!” she is heard screaming as the pair drag her away. Hearing her screams, Gideon calls out, “Fear not, Miriam! I am coming to your rescue,” and proceeds to display some skills that would put an action hero to shame as he overcomes a parade of enemy combatants standing in his way. A moment after he successfully restrains the kidnappers, other Jewish soldiers arrive at the scene, thereby shifting the balance of power. But then Gideon is suddenly shot and wounded, and Miriam is the first to rush to his aid.

From that moment on, the previously helpless female soldier takes full charge and knows exactly what to do. And as he is lying in bed, feverish, Miriam calms Gideon down, gives him his jab, and even sings to him a soothing Hebrew folk song [Na Alterman and Mordechai Zeira’s Laila Laila (‘nighttime’)]. Soon, her lovely singing voice draws in a group of soldiers who had been sitting outside.
And so, one by one Miriam displays a number of classic female archetypes – damsel in distress, doting carer, and devoted mother. After the war, Miriam goes on to study law at university which portrays her as being quite the skilled, capable woman. However, as a soldier she is all but inconsequential and is mostly there as a vehicle to foreground and amplify Gideon’s heroic antics.

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