In August of 2005, Israel (in an attempt to end conflict with the Palestinians) ordered the 8,000 Jewish settlers living on the Gaza Strip to leave their homes and move to a new area. The event became one of the most tragic and important events in recent Middle East history. There to capture the 5-day evacuation entirely, was director Yoav Shamir. “5 Days” is a result of this footage, shot with 7 camera crews, on each side of the border of the Strip. It’s definitely a captivating documentary about one of the weightiest moments in recent history. The end result, however, is almost utterly destroyed by its fierce narration (as if the narrator is preparing to work on a cop show) and intensely noisy soundtrack. All the right footage is captured in great detail, though the videogame fashion at which it’s cut together sometimes destroys the mood from being as emotionally touching as the imagery demonstrates.
That isn’t to say it doesn’t work all the time. Most notably, intimate scenes showing the families deciding how to fight without breaking an agreement made against violence with the Israeli General in charge of the disengagement. Though the settlers are determined not to leave their homes, they are smart enough not to have anyone get hurt. As the days go by and the actual evacuation begins, some of the military members express feelings of opposition towards the decision but they continue forcing the evacuation orders, as they are utterly helpless to really do anything to change the unfortunate decision.
The families are offered financial compensation if they leave their home voluntarily but the determined Jews ignore the offer. It’s an admirable choice as I’m sure none of us would be willing to leave our homes so easily. Besides focusing on the military and the settlers, groups of unwavering Jewish supporters gather in streets outside of the Gaza Strip in an attempt to thwart the military machines rolling towards the evacuation process. Some of the protesters are captured for refusing to follow orders. One is so invested; he actually breaks from capture and makes his way back to the front lines. These forms of action are nothing shy of inspirational. It’s just a shame that in the end, nothing could be done to prevent it.
Perhaps this is a documentary best made for the evening television news crowd. High school students learning about this event in a history class (if this event even makes it into the high school level) would benefit greatly by this film also. While it may not be structurally sound, “5 Days” is certainly absorbing enough to look out for.