Kippur: War Requiem

Amos Gitai

Auszüge eines Textes von Amos Gitai, den er für den Katalog zu seiner Ausstellung Amos Gitai: Kippur, War Requiem geschrieben hat (13.9.2023 bis 10.2.2024, Tel Aviv Museum of Art).

Kippur, 2000, Amos Gitai

Writers can write texts
scientists can present data
what options do filmmakers have?
The cinema I make requires time
and space
a rhythm.
It has to stretch out the time unit
to counter the media system,
almost in a subversive manner
its aim is to humanize the other
and this takes time.

We must embrace contradictions
and take the time to “arrange”

What is the meaning of the word
It is a lament to put to rest the souls of the dead

We were seven who left
Ramat David airbase in the
early hours of October 11
Avner Hacohen
Gadi Klein
Nadav Gottlieb
Dr. Zeev Klein
Zaki Zuriel
Uzi Cantoni
and myself
only six came back
Gadi did not
Dr. Zeev Klein died soon after.

All the others still keep
body and mental wounds

When she agreed to work with me,
Jeanne Moreau said,
“Amos, I only work on films when
I think I will learn something
I didn’t already know.”
So, when Mira Lapidot suggested that
I’ll write a text relating
to the exhibition
that we are opening at the
Tel Aviv Museum of Art
I said to myself that this
reinvestigation of the event
that happened fifty years ago
(perhaps even scratching again the old wounds)
will teach me something.
This revisit presents an occasion for deeper learning.

What did I learn again now?
What does the transposition of this event into
an exhibition show me again.

I can see again
that the camera had served as a shield.
The camera acted as
a chronicler of our times.
In this sense, it’s the modern fetish
par excellence.

In October 1973,
when I was an architecture student,
my mother gave me a Super-8 camera,
As a birthday present.
During the war,
I took this camera with me and recorded
what I saw from the helicopter:
faces, the texture of the earth,
bits of rescue missions,
and so on.
Paradoxically, it was all quite abstract.
But I didn’t take the camera with me
the day my rescue helicopter
was shot down
by a Syrian missile.
I had left it behind at the airbase
and this is why the short Super-8 films I made
during the war
still exist today
and can be seen in the exhibition.
After all, this little camera is an object
that has helped me immensely.


It has been a filter,
keeping traces of memories
by recording events in real-time,
as well as a shield between the real
and myself.
I used the camera to document
as they were happening
and this activity required distance.

The camera was this instrument
of distancing.
In a certain way,
it shielded my soul from the war.

The camera makes it possible,
on the one hand,
to document and conserve memory
– if we speak about war
where death and loss are real possibilities.
On the other, the moment you pick up
the camera,
you become an outsider.

One can also say that
the camera is a kind of a weapon,
a kind of fetish embodying
my distancing from society.
It is for this reason that
I have an affective relationship
with the medium of cinema.

Bertolt Brecht spoke of distancing
as a kind of basic condition of any creation.
From an optical standpoint,
we know that objects seen from
too close loose clarity.
We need some distance
to see
and the camera is a tool that helps
to create this distance.
It’s an object that places you
outside the group
that you are about to film.
Part of me wanted to belong
to a group.
That is what landed me
in a rescue helicopter
during the Yorn Kippur War.
Another part of me never
really wanted to be part of this group
in an Israeli society that demands
total adherence to a collective project.

A small group of seven people
found itself in a Bell 205 helicopter
flying into Syrian territory
to try and rescue
a Skyhawk pilot
whose jet had been shot down by the Syrians.


The Yorn Kippur War started
on October 6, 1973.


On October 11,
on the 6th day of the war,
our helicopter was shot down
by a Syrian missile.
The cockpit exploded
and Gadi the co-pilot was
Avner, the first pilot, managed to fly
for three more minutes
and then we crashed
behind Israeli lines.
The event itself was quite short,
but it was no less an encounter
with death.

For me, the most shocking event
of this war
occurred before we were shot down.
I had just put an oxygen tube
in the mouth of a seriously wounded colonel,
and we were flying to the hospital.
At some point,
some notes he had jotted down
before the war fell out of his pocket.
I bent down to pick them up.
They were about buying tomatoes
at the market.
When I leaned up,
he was gone,
he had died.
The passage from life to death
had not been dramatic
at all
and that in itself is the real drama.

All of these elements
constitute biographical material
that is personal.
But how does one make a film
or an installation
out of it?

It is really an open question
That I will try
to answer through the exhibition itself
by using
The Super-8 films
That I made during the war,
the drawings that I made
immediately after the crash
fifty years ago
parts of my documentary film
Kippur: War Memories
that I made twenty years after the war,
and the feature film Kippur
That I made 27 years after.

Sometimes I ask myself
why it took me
such a long lapse of time.
I think that
right after the war,
I wanted to forget.
I did not want to talk about it.

When the prospect of peace
started to appear
with the election of Yitzhak Rabin,
I decided that I would talk about the war
in a dialectical manner
to express the damage and destruction
of any war
to remind those
who wanted to go to the next war
what war is about:
The loss of the individual
the waste of all resources.

I thought that there would come a time when
war fatigue sets in.
And peace comes, not in dramatic fashion,
just as a conclusion
to the savagery.
Perhaps we will arrive at the same decision
the Europeans did
after two bloody and murderous
World wars
Understanding that they can
disagree and have disputes
But not shoot.

Right after the war,
and I cannot say exactly why,
I hung the uniform
I wore during the war
and I filmed it.
It was raining
the first rain after the war
I felt emotional
the globe was still turning
the cycles of nature were going on.

How does one materialize
an encounter with fate?
How does one give it form?
The true challenge is to make things
more abstract
not illustrative
when we read texts
our minds can roam freely
and dress the text
with different forms.
Cinema is instantly concrete.
It’s me in the picture.
It’s you.
How does one take a personal memory
and render its abstract quality
in a cinematic or an exhibition form?
How does one take an event
like the Yorn Kippur War
and give it a universal value,
one that is beyond being
a traumatic Israeli event.