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Spectacles of Pain: War, Masculinity and the Masochistic Fantasy in Amos Gitai's Kippur

Israeli war films of the 1950s and 60s focused on the typically male fantasy in which a soldier is prepared to sacrifice his body to torture and harm—and sometimes even to death—in order to serve national ideals. Masochistic enjoyment is a substantial component in the construction of the fighting male body as a war machine, but in the 50s war films this component was absent. The materiality of bodily pain appeared as a representation of an abstract national idea.

What was omitted in these films becomes a spectacle of pain in Amos Gitai's film, Kippur (2000). The film constructs a masochistic fantasy whereby the fighting male body is stripped of its metaphoric national meaning, turning now to its bodily corporality, to flesh, blood, and bone. Gitai's film exposes the violence and suffering that are denied by Israel's culture of war, and which are required for the very construction of nationalism.

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