“The Wooden Gun” takes place in Tel Aviv, Israel in the early 1950s. The war and the holocaust are still fresh in the minds of the Jewish people. Searching for loved ones takes up a lot of people’s time. Friends and family who were carried off to concentration camps are high on the minds of those who have survived. The whole Jewish nation has been uprooted and been transplanted all over the world.
In Israel there are now two types of Jews in the cities: Sabras (those who were born in Israel), and those who have immigrated from Israel to escape the Nazis and the camps. While the adults are able to understand all the new changes in their lives, and are ready to accept them, the children have a much harder time coming to grips with the changes in their lifestyles and their neighborhoods. The Sabras see the immigrants as outsiders and invaders.
What we see in this film is a look at the prejudices and lack of understanding and tolerance that the children of the immigrants and the native born Israelis have for each other. In the tradition of “The War of the Buttons”, the boys form gangs and attack each other after school when the adults are not around. Even in the chaos, there are still rules that the boys have placed upon themselves: dangerous weapons are banned, and they must only attack groups (“soldiers” that are walking alone are not to be attacked).
In an attempt to put the war at an end, the immigrant Jewish boys one evening attack a Sabra who is walking home alone. Their idea is that if they attack him, the defeat will be so devastating to the Sabras that they will give up completely. During the attack, though, the boy’s arm is broken. Against the objections of their parents, the Sabras vow revenge.
With the aid of a new “secret weapon”, the native born boys plan on killing the leader of the immigrants. Will the boys go to far this time, or will they come to their senses before it is too late? A great film with superb acting from Arik Rosen and the rest of the boys. Definitely a movie worth watching.