‘Entebbe’ revisited 42 years on

Saturday May 12 2018

The poster of the latest film on the raid on

The poster of the latest film on the raid on Entebbe. PHOTO | COURTESY 

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A new film based on the infamous 1976 “Entebbe raid” rescue of Israeli passengers held hostage following the hijacking of a French plane will be released in the UK this weekend.

The film, 7 Days in Entebbe is directed by José Padilha and written by Gregory Burke. It premiered at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival in February and was released in the United States on March 16.

The terrorist hijacking was first immortalised in the movie Entebbe Raid, but this latest movie is based on new research and offers its own version of the hijacking, in particular with regard to the release of the non-Jewish hostages.

The film also shows in minute detail the efforts of the Israeli government, using commandos, to eventually rescue the Jewish hostages.
Padilha explores the themes of fear, violence, destruction and self-destruction.

A two-minutes 18 seconds trailer shows a female hijacker brandishing a pistol and making an announcement: “Everybody this is a highjack situation.”

Then a male hijacker threatens the pilot in the cockpit: “We have weapons and bombs. If you try anything you will die.”

“We call upon revolutionary movements everywhere to focus the attention of the world on the Palestinian people’s struggle,” another male hijacker declares.

The real event

The hijacking of the plane happened on June 27, 1976 when an Air France Flight 139 originating from Tel Aviv, Israel, carrying 238 passengers and a crew of 12, took off from Athens in Greece, heading for Paris.

Soon after take off, the plane was hijacked by commandos of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who diverted it to Benghazi, Libya and eventually forced it to land at the Entebbe Airport on June 29.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1967, Padilha is a film producer, writer and director who won an Emmy and a Peabody Award for his documentary Bus 174, and enjoyed great commercial success with The Elite Squad which won the Golden Bear at the 2008 Berlinale. He directed the remake of RoboCop in 2014 and the Netflix series Narcos in 2015.

The events at Entebbe have been dramatised in a number of films: Victory at Entebbe (1976) directed by Marvin J. Chomsky; the Israeli film Operation Thunderbolt (1977); and Raid On Entebbe (1977) directed by Irvin Kershner.

Several books have been written on the event such as William Stevenson’s Ninety Minutes at Entebbe and Yoni’s Last Battle: The Rescue at Entebbe by Iddo Netanyahu.