The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995 was an event that rocked Israel and its surrounding countries. The loss of the leader of the only democratic country in the Middle East was devastating enough, but the killing was exacerbated by the conspiracy theories that surrounded his death. “Rabin, The Last Day,” directed by Amos Gitai, shows the events leading up to his death and the after effects of losing what many saw as the last hope for peace between Israel and Palestine.
Hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens were in attendance at Rabin’s last rally for peace. The Prime Minister was an advocate for peace between Israel and Palestine, and even won the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1994. However, many radical Orthodox-Jewish citizens actively hated Rabin and his support of the Oslo Accords. One of these citizens, Yigal Amir, took it upon himself to take Rabin out of office, in any way he could. On the evening of November 4, Amir claimed he was following the Torah in assassinating the Prime Minister, and was arrested several hours later.
Two different types of rallies are juxtaposed throughout the movie: footage of the rallies for peace and footage of the Orthodox anti-Rabin rallies, shown in contrast to showcase the two radically different ways of thinking that were involved in the discourse of the time period.
The film combines real news clips, footage of Rabin’s last rally, and dramatizations of events throughout. With that being said, events and incidents are often left unclear and there was a lot of room for the viewer to get lost as the film progresses. Images and locations are often presented without context or identification, and you aren’t an expert on the history of Israel and its political landscape, you are likely to have a plethora of unanswered questions by the time the credits begin to roll.
Something of note is the differences in the Israeli and American justice systems. With true crime being a fad in American entertainment, from “Making a Murderer” to “Serial,” the dramatization in “Rabin” of the committee hearings of testimonies is a fascinating look at how criminal investigations are carried out in different countries.
While the film aims to strike upon a universal interest in dramatic political conspiracies, it falls short in its assumption of background information within the audience. Perhaps if it provided more contextual evidence throughout its depictions of different Israeli public officials it could have connected on a deeper level to its audience, but unfortunately it fails in that regard.
“Rabin, The Last Day” runs at 153 minutes, and opened on Friday, January 29th.
Jordan Reynolds is a staff writer for Washington Square News.