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The Gatekeepers (2013)

tomatometer

93

Average Rating: 8.3/10
Reviews Counted: 104
Fresh: 97 | Rotten: 7

Strikingly stark, brutally honest, and rivetingly assembled, The Gatekeepers offers essential perspective on a seemingly intractable war from some of the men who fought it.

97

Average Rating: 9/10
Critic Reviews: 31
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 1

Strikingly stark, brutally honest, and rivetingly assembled, The Gatekeepers offers essential perspective on a seemingly intractable war from some of the men who fought it.

audience

79

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 9,995

My Rating

Movie Info

Charged with overseeing Israel's war on terror-both Palestinian and Jewish- the head of the Shin Bet, Israel's secret service is present at the crossroad of every decision made. For the first time ever six former heads of the agency agreed to share their insights and reflect publicly on their actions and decisions. The Gatekeepers offers an exclusive account of the sum of their success and failures. It validates the reasons that each man individually and the six as a group came to reconsider

PG-13,

Documentary, Special Interest

Jul 9, 2013

$2.4M

Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (104) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (97) | Rotten (7)

There is a powerful moment in [the film] when Diskin, head of the Shin Bet from 2005 to 2011, candidly remarks that for the Palestinians he is himself a terrorist. That is not relativism but realism, and the welcome sign of an empathetic imagination.

June 13, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film and its talking head participants paint the picture in both broad strokes and fine detail.

March 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
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Whatever one's political stripe regarding Israel, it's hard to dispute the impressions and perspective of the film's six eyewitnesses.

March 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The level of candor here may not satisfy hard-liners of either stripe, but it can help viewers begin to formulate new questions about the philosophical, strategic and moral challenges of conflict, in particular "wars on terror."

March 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ultimately the movie feels evasive, and its flashy, digitally animated re-creations of military surveillance footage unpleasantly evoke the Call of Duty video games.

March 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It offers startlingly honest insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from some of those who called the shots.

March 7, 2013 Full Review Source: USA Today
USA Today
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film bravely pulls focus on Israel's behaviour as an occupying power, the treatment of the Palestinians and joins the growing list of recent films that cast a critical eye over a subject that was once deemed too thorny to question.

September 29, 2013 Full Review Source: 3AW

This is unprecedented stuff right here, on a topic so volatile it feels like it's just waiting to explode. And as a film, it's effective - for the most part.

September 27, 2013 Full Review Source: The Playlist
The Playlist

Dror Moreh's documentary is remarkable not for stylistic innovation but for the very fact it exists.

September 8, 2013 Full Review Source: ABC Radio (Australia)
ABC Radio (Australia)

The film is detailed and requires concentration, especially for those who need to read the subtitles. But the effort is worth it for anyone vaguely interested in the subject. And of course the subject goes to the heart of the human condition

September 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

A candid, revelatory and at times disturbing documentary that represents one of the 'must-sees' of 2013.

September 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

THE GATEKEEPERS doesn't want to function in binaries, it immerses you into the moral and ethical 'grey' quandary of Israel/Palestine.

August 23, 2013 Full Review Source: 2UE That Movie Show
2UE That Movie Show

What's extraordinary about The Gatekeepers isn't just that these guys have agreed to speak on camera - which is remarkable in itself - it's how utterly, astonishingly open and candid they are.

August 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Flix Capacitor
Flix Capacitor

The Gatekeepers shines as both an excellent history lesson and a remarkably in-depth look at one of the world's most important covert agencies.

July 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Reno Gazette-Journal

The Gatekeepers is a fascinating, often shocking, look into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of some of the men who would know it best.

July 8, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

Moreh's interviewees span generations, from elder statesman Avraham Shalom (mastermind of the 1960 Adolf Eichmann grab) to most recent spook-in-chief Yuval Diskin. Each displays a disarming mix of even-voiced candor and respect for talk-it-out diplomacy.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

As you listen to these six former chiefs of one of the world's most secretive organizations, it's hard not to have your jaw drop in awe, or surprise at their sudden candor.

June 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Dror Moreh's terrific documentary can stand beside Errol Morris's The Fog of War as a cinematic illustration of how human psyches bend beneath the pressure of terrible actions.

May 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Irish Times
Irish Times

A powerful cautionary tale about the concept of security, and how illusory it really is.

May 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

In the end, the accumulated stories in The Gatekeepers offer tremendous insight about the Israeli-Palestinian situation. It feels more like it was prepared as a history document for Shin Bet rookies than a documentary.

April 29, 2013 Full Review Source: AspectRatio.us
AspectRatio.us

...a riveting and sobering documentary about Shin Bet that raises important if unanswerable questions about the morality of state-sanctioned violence in the name of internal security.

April 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

[Moreh] asks just the right questions, never prodding these understandably private men too far but getting what he needs.

April 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

A riveting but depressing history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

April 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

It's a depressing movie, yet there is encouragement to be found in the manifest decency and reasonableness of these six honest, articulate men ...

April 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

The former heads of Israel's military anti-terrorism agency Shin Bet break their silence in this unnerving, eye-opening documentary.

April 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Contactmusic.com
Contactmusic.com

Audience Reviews for The Gatekeepers

The Gatekeepers is a candid talking heads style documentary that interviews all the surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency. The level of honesty was unexpected, the sincerity of regret was a surprise and the overall message that Shin Bet didn't work was a real revelation. One of the heads said that he and most of the others had left Shin Bet as 'converted Lefties', I nearly fell off my chair. This makes for some compelling watching, indeed, the world could do with watching this. If you want to what tragedy really is, watch The Gatekeepers and then discuss globally so we can sort this mess out with understanding and intelligence.
March 20, 2014
SirPant

Super Reviewer

With keen insights that go beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict, "The Gatekeepers" is a very incisive documentary that consists of interviews with six former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency tasked with overlooking the occupied territories and attempting to stop future terrorist attacks which are impossible to always predict, much less prevent, as it is very difficult to predict how a single human being will always act. And like in the opening conversation, one interviewee points out that there are more than two possible outcomes to every military action, not to mention consequences down the line which he tries to tell his civilian bosses about. While one would assume new technology would make the job easier, that also comes with its own unique set of drawbacks, as another interviewee thinks back fondly on the days they relied on human intelligence.

Even the archival footage is fascinating in itself as it documents incidents those of us living outside of Israel have probably never heard of and form a continuing part of the narrative that starts with Israel's triumphant victory in the 1967 Six Day War, followed by it assuming custody of new territories and new peoples. Ironically, that is the beginning of a perpetual headache that as can be seen here can only be managed, not solved. In the end, the only solution these hardened military men can find is to talk with their opposite numbers, even as the conversation is currently dominated by fanatics.
March 11, 2013
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

This documentary directed by Dror Moreh tells us the story of the Israeli Shin Bet - Israel's secretive internal security service - from the perspective of six former heads of this organization - or the "Gatekeepers".

[img]http://commentarytrack.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/The-Gatekeepers-2012-e1364508688541.jpg[/img]

The outstanding in-depth interviews were excellently combined with archival footage and computer animation to recount the role that the group played in Israel's security from the Six-Day War to the present. It is understandable that the film was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 85th Academy Awards. It is amazing to hear words from the head of the security of the country like the ones in this film... "You say, 'Okay, I made a decision and X number of people were killed. They were definitely about to launch a big attack. No one near them was hurt. It was as sterile as possible'. Yet, you still say, 'There's something unnatural about it. What's unnatural is THE POWER YOU HAVE TO TAKE THREE PEOPLE, terrorists, and take their lives in an instant." Open heart from people who daily kept ordering killings because they thought that was their duty in "war against terror"!

[img]http://ts4.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.4557545627059003&pid=1.7[/img]

Having just completed a film about former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the director Dror Moreh came to realize the decisive role that the Shin Bet had played behind the scenes for the past forty years in Israel. The problem, according to the director, was getting the "Gatekeepers" to agree to appear on camera and discuss their work and opinions. Given the secretive nature of the organization, none of them had ever done this before, and many of the topics he hoped to discuss with them were either classified or highly sensitive.

Despite this initial difficulty, Moreh contacted one of the "Gatekeepers", Ami Ayalon, who had since been elected to the Knesset for the Labor Party and was serving as a Minister without Portfolio in the Security Cabinet. Much to his surprise, Ayalon not only agreed to participate, he also helped Moreh contact the other surviving former heads of the Shin Bet: Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Peri, Carmi Gillon, and Avi Dichter. The sixth participant in the film, Yuval Diskin, was still serving as head of the Shin Bet at the time! Though all the men agreed to participate, some were reluctant initially to discuss various incidents associated with their careers. Shalom, for instance, did not want to discuss his role in the hijacking of the 300 bus and summary execution of two of the terrorists, though the ensuing scandal ultimately led to his resignation. Over time, however, an unbelievable thing happened and with careful prodding, he agreed to discuss even that, and it now features as one of the film's seven segments.

I've been to Israel and Palestine, I went through their security checks, and I know how rough and tough there could be, but this was a revelation for me... something which everyone interested in peace in that region should see and hear. One of the top documentaries of all times about Middle East!
October 27, 2013
PantaOz
Panta Oz

Super Reviewer

If these men find everything they've done to be futile, then I think we can finally stop debating the merits of the War on Terror.
July 13, 2013
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

    1. Avraham Shalom: The future is dark because if you put most of our young people in the army, they'll see paradox. We have become cruel to ourselves and mainly to the occupied population.
    – Submitted by Reza P (7 months ago)
    1. Avraham Shalom: Even if they answer rudely, there's no alternative to talking. It's a trait of a professional intelligence operative to talk to everyone.
    – Submitted by Reza P (7 months ago)
    1. Yaakov Peri: You can't see the mother's tears.
    – Submitted by Reza P (7 months ago)
    1. Carmi Gillon: We are making the lives of millions unbearable into prolonged human suffering.
    – Submitted by Reza P (7 months ago)
    1. Carmi Gillon: For Israel, it's too much of luxury not to speak with our enemies. When we refuse to talk, we make a mistake.
    – Submitted by Reza P (7 months ago)
    1. Avi Dichter: Peace must be built on a system of trust. As a person who knows Palestinians well, building such system, a genuine one, won't be a problem on them.
    – Submitted by Reza P (7 months ago)
View all quotes (10)

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