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500 Five-Star: The Band’s Visit (2007)

February 27, 2012


I was surprised when I came across The Band’s Visit in the 500 Five-Star magazine.  Not, you understand, because I felt it didn’t deserve its place, but because I hadn’t actually heard of it.  There are, of course, a lot of films within the list that I hadn’t heard of, but I do believe that The Band’s Visit is the only one from the last decade that I was completely clueless about.  At the time of its release, I was an Empire subscriber, so I’m convinced I must have read their review, and therefore, at some point, known of its existence.  I just don’t remember it.  And honestly, having now seen it, I can understand why it was forgotten so rapidly.  It’s a lovely little film, don’t get me wrong, but when I say ‘little’, I really mean it.  It’s 83 minutes long, the dialogue is sparse, and there’s no major narrative to speak of; no real wonder, then, that it completely slipped under my radar.  Even now, having seen it, I realise that its understated nature means there’s a good possibility that I’ll lapse back into forgetting it exists…though I really hope I’m wrong.

The Band’s Visit tells the story of an Egyptian police orchestra, who, having arrived in Israel to play a show at an Arab Cultural Centre, find themselves lost in a tiny desert town.  Forced to spend the night there, it explores the relationships forged by the various members of the police and the people who take them in.  Despite the subject matter, there is no political leaning or discussion; instead the film is about human relationships, human pain, human healing, and all of those feelings which ultimately mark all men and women, no matter where they are from or what religion they practise.  It’s at turns amusing, sweet, awkward and sad, and while the pacing might be too slow for many, it’s difficult not to become caught up in this tale of simple, yet deep, emotional connections.  Despite the short running time and slow pace, director Eran Kolirin creates a number of distinctive, special moments; the roller-disco scene in which a young member of the orchestra wordlessly guides his new Israeli friend in how best to engage his date for the night is especially wonderful.  Beautifully pitched and performed, this really is a film which doesn’t deserve to be forgotten.



Before writing this review, I was sure I was going to give The Band’s Visit four stars.  However, while sitting here, I have realised just what a special film it really is.  In fact, I’m not so sure I will forget it, after all…


2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2012 11:31 pm

    I love this film. It’s films like this that make me pleased that I undertook the challenge. I would rate this amongst my personal top 10 so far.

    • February 28, 2012 11:08 pm

      It’s really stuck with me over the few days since I watched it, much to my surprise. Such a small film, but so powerful and touching.

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