Movie review of “The Wanted 18”: Stop-motion animation, interviews and re-enactments are employed to tell the true-life tale of a Palestinian, Israeli conflict over cows.
The Palestinians’ plan was carried out in darkness and was later deemed to be “dangerous for the security of the state of Israel.” Armed Israeli soldiers and helicopters were mobilized, while the Palestinians moved in stealth under a strict curfew.
All because of a herd of cows.
“The Wanted 18” tells a true-life tale that took place in the Palestinian town Beit Sahour in 1988 during the first intifada. There, as a nonviolent protest, the townspeople bought 18 cows from an Israeli peacenik to produce their own milk rather than pay an Israeli company for it. The herd was soon labeled a security threat, leading the Palestinians to hide the animals rather than have them seized by Israeli forces.
‘The Wanted 18,’ a documentary directed by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan. 75 minutes. Not rated. In English, Arabic and Hebrew, with English subtitles. Several theaters. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.
Stop-motion animation, interviews and re-enactments are employed throughout this documentary, directed by Paul Cowan and Amer Shomali. It’s a clever mixture, and a funny one as the film evokes the farcical and frightening aspects of the time. In several scenes, the cartoon cows comment on their predicaments and on the humans around them.
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Ultimately, the tale is just a minor anecdote about resistance; it’s no surprise that the documentary was initially planned as a short film. Even at 75 minutes, it can feel padded with footage whose connection to the central plot is tenuous.
But at its best, “The Wanted 18” follows a worthy tradition of highlighting absurdities that arise during conflict: here, Israelis threatened by livestock and Palestinians creating some blunders of their own. To those involved, it seems comical in retrospect. Yet at the time, one Palestinian man says, “We took this cow thing very seriously.”