The Debt (2011, USA) vs The Debt (2007, Israel)

The new slick version of The Debt is a pretty good thriller but I couldn’t help feeling it was just the tiniest bit exploitative. It has some advantages over the original Israeli version (called Ha-hov and released in 2007). Its storyline is more richly complex. The acting is better and the scenes in which the Nazi doctor manipulates his captors are more taut. There are more thrills and spills.

The Israeli version is by comparison almost amateur and has some moments of real oddity, one of them important. And yet I preferred the earlier version.  It seems more authentic and engaging. It’s a small point, but the Ukrainian scenes are sharply real: that country looks and feels as it is depicted. All in all, I was more involved with the Israeli account.

I wouldn’t like to find myself believing that a Jewish outfit had more right to make a thriller out of this sort of material: art isn’t like that. That thought may lurk, though. I hope what I have spotted here is a difference which derives from the idea that such material deserves to be low-key in presentation. The 2011 account was one tad too vulgar.

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Publication date

09 November 2011


On movies