The Gatekeepers Reviews

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Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
March 11, 2013
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.
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2013
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.
Super Reviewer
½ February 9, 2013
Powerfully candid and sincere, "The Gatekeepers" opens the door of the Shin Bet, Israel's secret service, and airs all of its dirty laundry, but what truly makes it remarkable is that the men being interviewed are all former heads of the Shin Bet. Creative in its design of format for an informative documentary, the filmmaker delivers graphics and animated reenactments that immerse the viewer in the stories. Drawing ties to what our secret agencies may also be up to, it is uncanny how much of this resonates into our lives, even if the events being focused on have no real relation to the U.S. besides peace talks headed by the Clinton administration. As intriguing as the film is, take away the graphics and wonderfully sound designed actual footage and what you have is talking heads, which, not ideal, still makes for some attention grabbing material.
½ December 26, 2013
The first look into the mysterious Israeli intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, is interesting, but not totally captivating.
August 3, 2013
Loved this documentary. If the US wants to have a sane policy in the Middle East they can learn a lot from Israel.
½ July 22, 2013
Intriguing and fascinatingly candid. The Gatekeepers is an Oscar-nominated documentary composed of interviews of all of the remaining living heads of the Israeli secret service agency, the Shin Bet, concerning their dealings with terrorist threats, Palestinians and the Palestinian state since the 1967 Six Day War in the Middle East that involved the nations of Israel, Egypt, Syria and Jordan. During that war, Israel had decided to expand its borders beyond those granted to the new nation after the end of WWII. Israel gained the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria and the West Bank from Jordan. Knowing a bit about Israeli history might be beneficial before watching this ... but it also might shine a light upon the parts of Israel's past they don't really want exposed. Denying their past doesn't make it go away and this is the realization these men have come to after leaving their posts and analyzing their actions. Many are appalled at their own actions and have found empathy for a group/class of people they forgot to look at as fellow human beings ... and this is a problem so many people still have today all over the world. Most wars have two justifiable sides and watching a high-ranking Israeli admit, rationalize and understand that "to a Palestinian he is a terrorist" is a most powerful and remarkable admission. These men are professing their state's sins and hope for change, peace and understanding ... which is a rather surprising thing when we listen to one political party in the US tell us that Israeli's don't want peace with Palestinians or other Arab states. That US myth is being debunked here while these men hope for a change that matters. Who said "hope" and "change" were jokes? These men would staunchly disagree.
½ July 10, 2013
You might think a documentary with a bunch of talking heads is no day at the movies and boy would you be wrong. Especially when said talking heads are discussing government sanctioned violence. The Israeli counterterrorism agency known as In Shin Bet ('in service of safety') has some of its history exposed, and its frightening and compelling. From 1980 to 2011 you find out the conflicts that roil in the mind and soul when you're someone fighting for what you believe is a lasting peace, even if it means fighting to the death. Even though director Dror Moreh is talking about Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the granting of Palestinian statehood, but the collateral damage of resulting moral rot of Shin Bet is all too familiar. All of the men interviewed, Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Peri, Carmi Gillon, Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter and Yuval Diskin are scarily thoughtful and blunt about their experiences and actions. In between are computer-generated simulations of Shin Bet bombings that maybe weren't as necessary, the actual people are enough to draw us in. There isn't a more potent poitical thriller out there right now. The Gatekeepers is like a punch to the gut.
March 24, 2013
A movie with a mission -- to review the military and surveillance history of the State of Israel through the eyes of every living former intelligence chief that headed up Shin Bet. These guys are scary, tough, and by and large, very clear-headed about the wrong-headedness of the politicians, the policies, and the public that supports the occupation of the palestinians.
½ March 29, 2015
Fascinating look into the internal workings of Israeli intelligence since l967--which at the core contains a serious indictment of the occupation concept itself. This is worthy of all of our attentions, particularly in light of recent events. I commend it to your attention
March 26, 2015
Fareed Zakaria mentioned this on his podcast back when it came out, and I wanted to see it then, and I still am interested in seeing it now. It should be very useful information, no?
July 19, 2013
Eye opening documentary on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Told by the ex-heads of Shin Bet (Israel' intelligence agency). Breaks stereotype.
February 7, 2015
Not as tense and engaging as advertised, but still a most interesting watch given that something like this hasn't been attempted up to the film's genesis. Some controversial information is shared with the audience but somehow the blades don't cut as deep as the should. The Shin Bet heads talk honestly but fail to connect with the audience on a desired level given the rather loose structure of the story which doesn't follow any sort of fixed chronology or narrative. The film rather focuses on certain points and notions which dilute the film's impact. The talking heads direction does get repetitive and the archive footage and animations seeks to add some visual interest but do so only half way. Still, for anyone remotely interested in the subject of secrecy and spying this is a worthwhile endeavor.
December 27, 2014
Excellent documentary detailing the friction between the Israeli government and Shin Bet. For anyone interested in Middle Eastern politics, this is an eye opening must. Very well balanced documentary making.
November 15, 2014
An excellent, compelling documentary. The frank testimony of these former directors of Shin Bet provides thoughtful and disturbing insights into the Israeli - Palestinian statemate.
July 18, 2014
boring doc, fell asleep
April 7, 2014
Excellent documentary and different perspective on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
½ April 2, 2014
This is a great piece of documentary-work.. I was surprised to see the incredibly candid, honest, and even compassionate tone of "G-men" who made their careers supporting the war-like Israeli State. I suppose the purpose of this film was to humanize the conflict a bit, but to me it humanized the type of Israeli military and security men who often are villified.
February 17, 2014
great documentary film but lack of explanation
½ January 21, 2014
Obviously one-sided and mostly toothless, but there is plenty to read between the lines.
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