“A TRAMWAY IN JERUSALEM”— The Rhythm of the City


The Rhythm of the City

Amos Lassen

Israel is a complex nation of multiculturalism and we really see this in Amos Gitai’s new film “A Tramway in Jerusalem”. The characters seem to be trapped on a journey to nowhere, going round and round on seems to be an endless trip but they’re all in the same boat: gentiles, Hasidic Jews, Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Israeli Arabs, Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Jews. Gitai shows us  the chaotic nature of these Semitic as they argue, laught, console, sing and debate.

The film begins with a woman singing an aria while a man plays the oud. In the backseat we see a man and his son who are visiting Jerusalem for the first time. At the same time, a group of Hassidic men chant a religious chorus. Made up a series of sketches, the film gives us a taste of Israel. The tram follows a path along the city and starting from the different points of view of the various protagonists that follow one another.

Gitai introduces us to strangers  who we get to know during their ride. The tourist (Mathieu Amalric) loves the sun and light and he is taking his son to visit the places where Flaubert had been, revealing however how in a more serious confrontation on the country he is unable to bring his interest in focusing on the reality of things there is the couple who must decide whether to divorce, a priest (Pippo Delbono) who speaks of God, a girl is going to her lover for a spicy encounter; a talkative woman provokes an Orthodox Jew, inviting him to look out the windows at the beautiful city instead of continuing to study the Talmud; a departing soldier greets his girlfriend trying to hold back the tears and there a girl who feels threatened by an Arab just because she is Arab.

There is another very important nonhuman character— the music. The different musicians who alternate along the way (the Palestinian rapper, the banjo player, the singer) are indeed characters who demonstrate a further way of living public transport. The path of the tram takes the different musical genres from one area of ​​Jerusalem to another, allowing them to come into contact with an audience that may not be used to them (including us). Music is a passenger on the tram as well as a  vehicle for a message of integration. Gitai knows how to transform this abstract element first into a concrete one and then into a metaphorical one— the various musical styles make up a sound backdrop of Israeli multiculturalism.

Traditional Palestinian music alternates with the songs of Orthodox Jews and pop sounds, while in the background the announcement of the various stops becomes a spatial counterpart to the time scan performed by the timetables.

In Jerusalem, the tram connects different neighborhoods, from east to west, and we see their variety and differences. The film collects a mosaic of human beings from this city which is also the spiritual center of the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Gitai reflects on national identity and does so by inventing a limitation of a spatial nature (the film is shot entirely inside the tram that crosses Jerusalem 24 hours a day), and a temporal nature (every single scene is still in sequence shot, and in each sequence there are different characters, with only a few returning more than once).

“A Tramway in Jerusalem” shows us the progressive unveiling of the discourse: we move from apparently harmless dialogues around issues of banal everyday life, to then gradually understand that behind each of those dialogues, there is an obstacle, namely the arrogant belief on the part of the Israelis that they are second-class citizens, while everyone else is forced to adapt, even the tourists. The same anxiety about the control of one’s own territory is manifested within the tram, where there is always a guardian in uniform. The policeman – has the task of verifying order within a public vehicle, he is a militarized reality. We go from the Israeli assistant coach who does not let the new coach who came from Europe speak to the mother who complains of her son’s work and sentimental inanity. The dialogue between the French tourist and two citizens of Jerusalem with his compliments of Israel and their answers that include talk about the military  are meant to show that the forces of land support each other in perfect coordination.

There is a fragmentation of voices and languages ​​(including French, Arabic and Italian) that show that the ancient Jewish popular culture has been replaced  by the obsession

About Film Movement

 Founded in 2002, Film Movement is a North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films based in New York City. It has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide including the Oscar-nominated films Theeb (2016) and Corpus Christi (2020). Film Movement’s theatrical releases include American independent films, documentaries, and foreign art house titles. Its catalog includes titles by directors such as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Maren Ade, Jessica Hausner, Andrei Konchalovsky, Andrzej Wajda, Diane Kurys, Ciro Guerra and Melanie Laurent. In 2015, Film Movement launched its reissue label Film Movement Classics, featuring new restorations released theatrically as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, including films by such noted directors as Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marleen Gorris, Takeshi Kitano, Arturo Ripstein, King Hu, Sergio Corbucci, Ettore Scola and Luchino Visconti. For more information, please visit www.filmmovement.com. Visit www.filmmovementplus.com for more information about Film Movement Plus, the new subscription streaming service from Film Movement.

Sorry—at this tie there is not a trailer with English subtitles.

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