Prisoners of War (2010)

28 Jul

Prisoners Of War

Prisoners of War (a.k.a Hatufim) is the hit Israeli TV series that inspired the acclaimed US show Homeland. Whilst the central premise of both programmes revolves around repatriated POW’s the similarities are largely superficial. Whereas Homeland devolved into an increasingly implausible thriller involving plots to assassinate the US vice-president, Prisoners of War is a far more intimate look into the impact on the prisoner’s lives, and that of their families, after their release. As the show’s title suggests, ultimately its not just soldiers who are prisoners of war.

After a negotiated release we follow the return home of Nimrod Klein (Yoram Toledano) and Uri Zach (Ishai Golan) after 17 years in captivity. The remains of a third prisoner, Amiel Ben-Horin (Assi Cohen) are also returned to his sister Yael Ben-Horin (Adi Ezroni). Nimrod and Uri both struggle to adapt to their new found freedom, plagued by often brutal flashbacks of their time in captivity, whilst Yael tries to cope with the death of her brother.

An Israeli Defence Force psychiatrist becomes suspicious of the two men after uncovering discrepancies in Nimrod and Uri’s version of events whilst undergoing rehabilitation. Viewers expecting a transplanted version of Homeland might be somewhat disappointed by the more measured pace of Prisoners of War but the underlying conspiracy involving the true cause of Amiel’s death is gradually teased out, culminating in the season ending cliff hanger.

Given the complexities of the Middle East Prisoners of War wisely avoids making any overt political or religious statements but rather focuses on the break-down of familial relationships as a consequence of the conflict in the region. And therein lies the real strength of the show. Universal themes of guilt, betrayal, alienation and solidarity underpin each episode and make the drama readily accessible to Western audiences.

Well-directed with strong performances from an excellent cast, Gideon Raff’s Prisoners of War is highly recommended.

 

By Roger Beatson

 

 

 

 

 

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