Dror Sabo
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Dror Sabo, based on the novel Vultures & Dead Flesh by Yoram Kaniuk – 2010

The disturbing opening scene of Eagles, a film adapted from a five-part series directed by Dror Sabo and based on the York Kaniuk novel, Vultures & Dead Flesh, starts off with a sequence of dark, bleak, and suspenseful shots: Ephraim (Yossi Pollak) is a bitter, depressed, elderly Ashkenazi in his eighties; a former Jewish resistance (Palmach) fighter reduced by old age to no more than a pressure cooker of existential rage. He is now a ticking timebomb of revenge plots (very much of the sadistic kind) that end up leaving a bloodbath in their wake, and a trail of wretched Tel Avivian bastards – vultures who’d fucked around with the wrong geezer and found out.

Ephraim is lying slumped in his bed, inactive and heavy like a sack of potatoes, staring in abject despair at a cheerful baby onscreen, starring in a nappies advert. In the background, trans music is blasting out from a party somewhere in the building that’s making his blood boil. Just a handful of shots and few bits of dialogue are all it takes to produce this opening sequence’s depressing mis-en-scène – a potent cocktail of pain, despair, and biting sarcasm.

Building on the sheer force of the Kaniukean source text, the opening scene illustrates the deep-seated existential angst that becomes the driving force at the heart of the subsequent killing spree. The hate-fuelled monologue that comes out of Ephraim in the form of a punchy, alarming voiceover narration says it all: “They’re selling nappies to babies, as if the babies would put on the nappy and get laid straight away. Parading them with their little arses. It’s awful, it is, watching them make outright pornography with Jewish babies’ arses. Selling my missus all these lotions for her cracks with their smooth faces. And this is a woman who was our commander in the resistance, who’d be sticking pegs in sandbags and shout out, ‘I want to see blood in their eyes!’… parties all day long. Jumping about on rooftops like there’s no tomorrow. They’re a godless lot, all of them. They have nothing. Only themselves.”

Ephraim’s tortured, hate-ridden opening monologue is a universal “ode” to loathing that bemoans the pitifulness of old age and projects the full combustible weight of its baggage onto the local social context, represented by the young – the same “motherfuckers who won’t stop passing through our shop windows, tearing our hearts out with how they look. As if they were these blobs of moving jelly, strutting about like bloody pudding. With their jeans, and internet, and their Walkmen shoved up their ears – and their nose turned all the way up to the heavens. And from all the way up there, at the top, they mock you (the bastards.)”

The film urges the viewers to feel a sense of disdain mixed with empathy – a type of emotion that no one really wants to indulge in. When Ephraim watches the baby in the nappy advert, it suddenly dawns on him that they are both seen to have a similar status – consumers of a product meant to soak up their discharges as they are incapable of looking after themselves. His ego is trampled, and he is offended by his old age. This profound, all-consuming affront that warrants resistance at all costs is the driving force of the narrative.

Courtesy of HOT and Lee Yardeni Buchris.

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