Judge Jesse Ataide announces that this may be no Magical Mystery Tour, but it's a penetrating bus ride more than willing to take you away.
"Instead of relaxing, I'm getting angry!"
Before intense fighting between the Israeli and Palestinian people broke out again in 2000, one of the few ways Palestinian citizens were able to get into Israel was to take a bus tour of the country. The Inner Tour rides along with a bus full of Palestinians, documenting their thoughts and emotions. What was initially intended as a fun and relaxing sightseeing tour quickly turns into an intense emotional journey for all involved.
The Palestinians are always made aware of their alien status during their tour of the area that they used to call their own. As they make the traditional tourist stops, it becomes painfully obvious how different the Jews and the Palestinians view the ongoing conflict. In one museum early in the tour they are shown exhibits glorifying Jews killed in political skirmishes, complete with captions and comments vilifying the Arabs responsible for the death. Back on the bus they discuss what they have just seen. "They paint hatred, not love," is one man's sad comment.
As more time is spent with the various passengers, revelations are uncovered. The Israeli government has briefly jailed one man. One young woman reveals through her tears that her husband is spending life in jail for his involvement in the killing of an Israeli soldier. One woman's husband was murdered by a Jew. One man actually had a conversation with the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabbin during in a stint in jail, and is determined to see the memorial set up in his honor. All of these people have their personal reasons and motivations for taking this trip, and for some it is hard to face the reality of the situation.
The Inner Tour apparently was quite controversial within Jewish circles for its sympathetic portrayal of Palestinians. Though Jewish director Ra'anan Alexandrowicz directed the film, The Inner Tour only presents a Palestinian perspective, which often paints Israel and Jewish culture in a less than flattering light. For how is it possible to not feel the injustice when a young man is finally able to make contact with his mother and family—but only through barbed wire and a ravine that forces them to throw packages to each other? How can the silent prayers of a stumbling old man who finds the grave of his father hidden beneath the tangle of cactus and desert vegetation not cause an emotional reaction? The Inner Tour, while never actively commenting on the situations that arise during this journey, allows the devastating material to speak for itself.
This is not a film concerned with exploring the aesthetic side of cinema, but a documentary with a purpose and message to convey. The quality of the film reflects this. The picture (shot on video) is often quite bad, the camera work choppy, and the editing at times leaving much to be desired. But despite any visual flaws, the underlying message manages to shine through. The audio is sufficient for a film of this nature; the English subtitles cannot be removed.
The extras include "Aftereffect," a four and a half minute behind-the-scenes program by the Sundance Channel that interviews Alexandrowicz and the producer of the film, allowing them to explain some of their motivations and ideas for the film in just several minutes' time. A theatrical trailer for Alexandrowicz's follow-up film James' Journey to Jerusalem and a TV promo for The Inner Tour are also included.
In the director's notes found in the disc's insert, Alexandrowicz writes that his goal for this film was to present to an Israeli audience a Palestinian perspective, and he certainly succeeds. Considering that in the film the comment is made that the world ignores the Palestinians, it is very admirable that the man who actually steps up and gives them the means to have their voice heard is from the side that they consider their enemy.
Perhaps there is hope for this horrible situation.
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• "Afftereffect": A Behind-the-Scenes Program
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