Judd Ne’eman
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One might have assumed, hoped even, that Paratroopers (Judd Ne’eman, 1977), the first ever New Sensitivity [artistic movement] film to highlight the cracks in the Israeli soldier’s hyper masculine façade, might also have attempted some fresh takes on the representation of female soldiers. And indeed, at the start of the film, it does seem as though things are headed that way. Sergeant Ofra (Yael Pearl) is shown sitting in on the commanders’ meeting in the tent, although not without also mothering them all – from tucking in one officer’s shirt to pouring everyone some coffee and sympathising with a struggling soldier on whose behalf she pleads with his commanding officers for another chance. But when the soldiers go off on a loaded march, the film emphasises the female soldier’s exclusion from this otherwise all-male experience when in the scene, we see her with her back to the camera, watching the men as they set off from camp.

The film ends with rather similar imagery. In the final shot, the soldiers are seen leaving camp in full gear whilst Ofra stays behind sipping coffee. Of course, her second role as a female soldier is fulfilling her commanding officer’s sexual needs. After a meeting, the officer calls her over. “Ofra, come here a sec,” he beckons her. Thus concludes their brief ‘courtship’ as we cut to the next scene where they are already going at it in his car.

Ofra, the battalion sergeant, is the only woman in an all-male base. Meanwhile, the female desk officers’ position at headquarters is that much less dignified. “Bring your clerk with you,” Lieutenant Levy (Michael Warshaviak) tells Lieutenant Yair (Gidi Gov). “Why, you want a piece of that?” he retorts. “Well, I wouldn’t say no,” replies Levy. And so, after some speedy negotiating, this invisible woman is effectively exchanged. Later, on returning to headquarters, Yair turns to a desk officer (Jetta Monte) walking past him and starts to ask her, “So, um… what am I actually…” before she jumps in and finishes his sentence, “What am I even doing tonight?”. The answer to that question soon arrives in the next shot when the two are seen fucking in her flat.

It would be almost a full hour before she makes another appearance; yet again, in bed with Yair. And only then, when Yair introduces her to his flatmate, do we finally find out her name.

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