7 Days in Entebbe, screenplay by Gregory Burke
The Israelis have stunned, mesmerized the world in 1976, with one of the most spectacular, daring, efficient, creative, outstanding, intelligent, phenomenal military operations ever performed in the world.
7 Days in Entebbe is the film that adapts the story for the big screen and although the critics have not been thrilled by it – the Metascore stands at a less than deserved 49 – and the public has so far rated it at just 5.7, the undersigned was very satisfied with this offer.
Rosamund Pike is good as the terrorist Brigitte Kuhlmann and so is the talented Daniel Bruhl, in the role of the other fanatic from Germany, Wilfried Bose, who seems to have felt some remorse, but his responsibility in this operation is too heavy to feel too much regret for his fate.
Given the time that has passed and the fact that the details of the glorious Israeli Operation that will stay forever in history and military strategy books are known, spoiler alert seem to be futile.
Brigitte Kuhlmann and Wilfried Bose are involved with radical groups from Germany who support the cause of the Palestinians, to the point where they join in what the Israelis –and others in the civilized world – call terrorism and much of the Arab world used to name a fight for liberation.
Things have changed in the meantime, and given the fact that Sunnis have a fight to pick with the Shias, the Saudis and their allies in the Gulf and elsewhere are concentrated on standing up to Iran, the most unlikely comrades are now on what looks like the same side: Israel and the Gulf Monarchies.
Nevertheless, in 1976, things were different, the safety checks were much more than lax, next to non- existent, and a group of fundamentalists boards the Air France from Paris to Tel Aviv, after the stop in Athens they take out their guns.
The hijackers force the crew of the plane to change course and they stop in Libya to re fuel and then they continue on to Entebbe, in Uganda, ruled by the mad Idi Amin, who comes at the airport and presents himself as Doctor, holder of this and that medal, General, his Magnificence and other preposterous ridiculous titles, most of which he conferred upon himself…
It makes one think of the most recent summit, between two clowns, Little Rocket Man and the Orange Donald, who loves the Korean – and others like him – dictator much more than the traditional allies, respectable people like Justin Trudeau.
The film presents what happens to the prisoners and alternatively, what the Israeli officials do in reaction to the terrible news, constrained as they are by their sound policy of never dealing with the terrorist and the need to try to do something about their compatriots.
Eddie Marsan is excellent as Shimon Peres, at the time the Minister of Defense and the one who argued for the boldest, bravest, most dangerous option and who appears to have a slightly – perhaps at times very- different point of view from the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin.
They contemplate an impossible, amazing, phenomenal mission at a distance of 4,000 miles and nobody has tried something similar, but they have to think it, since the effort of trying to convince the ruthless Idi Amin to intervene and release the prisoners, an act that would probably make him win the Nobel Prize has failed.
The brilliant military commanders and the world famous Israeli Special and Intelligence Forces design a plan whereby they would use the element of surprise, take a Mercedes car – which they would have to paint black, which is the color favored by the Ugandan officials- all the way to Entebbe and attack opponents .
There is some humor in the middle of this very dramatic, gripping, fascinating thriller, for instance in the moment when Yitzhak Rabin is analyzing the various options presented, which in the initial phases proposed a force of one thousand or more soldiers occupying the airport…
You want to occupy Uganda? Can you imagine what the United Nations, The African Union will say if we do that? And to all this, Shimon Peres responds…
We will give it back to them after we release our people…
At the same time, the public gets to see the story of the Netanyahu family- the Prime Minister of Israel today is and for a good many years in the past has been Benjamin Netanyahu – and there is an excellent contribution to the motion picture– the Bathsheba Dance Company presents a beautiful choreography, in which the partner of Yonatan Netanyahu is one of their protagonists.
The hijackers demanded that their fellow terrorists imprisoned by Israel be released or else they would start shooting the prisoners, children first, to the horror of their parents and the whole world.
Time is of the essence and part of the brilliancy of the plan was that before knowing if they would have the approval of the cabinet, the four Hercules planes had been sent to fly to Uganda, with all the equipment and the black car, only to be returned if the vote would have been a no.
The Operation Thunderbolt is under way – the very idea of even thinking of such a strategy is awe inspiring – and it was testimony to the determination, courage, intelligence, perseverance, skill, brilliance of the Israeli Special Forces, their leaders and their people.