The Gatekeepers **** (out of five)
Dror Moreh’s documentary is remarkable not for stylistic innovation but for the very fact it exists. Dror interviews six subjects: Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter, Yuval Diskin, Carmi Gillon, Yaakov Peri and Avraham Shalom. These men happen to be the surviving heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli Secret Service Agency. Their revelations are jaw dropping.
Quite such revelations from such a full complement of like types has never before been committed to screen or page. Errol Morris’ The Fog of War was a feature-length, in-depth and, at least seemingly, no-holds barred interview with Robert McNamara, and there have certainly been political documentaries that have extensively interviewed all manner of insiders, but these men ran one of the most secretive organizations on Earth, and are open and honest in talking about authorizing killings in custody, targeted assassinations, and the never-ending conflict between Shin Bet and the roster of Israel’s Prime Ministers. These are state secrets, out in the open, and some of them will not only confirm your worst fears, they may intensify them.
Moreh uses archival footage, photographs, targeted assassination video (similar to that of the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” footage), original footage of existing facilities, and a remarkable technique that imagines contemporary footage by modeling three dimensional images from photographs, and all these techniques are effective, but none are as powerful as simply watching these men, all possessed of fascinating, war-torn faces, as they unburden themselves of the many killings they’ve authorized. A layman’s knowledge of the history of Israel will certainly help to contextualize this mind-boggling series of admissions, confessions and interpretations, but even if you’ve never heard of Shin Bet, you’ll be floored by learning just how the world actually works.