Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Hatufim (חטופים) (Prisoners of War) by Gideon Zaff – Season 1 – Review

(failed to find a good picture of it in Hebrew)


‘The negotiations for the release of the Israeli soldiers, has ended successfully. Nimrod Klien, Uri Zach and Amiel ben horin are coming home. The first two are alive, Amiel was killed while being a prisoner of war. The soldiers reunite with their loved ones. Nimrod meets Talia, who waited for him for all those years, and conducted the campaign for his release.’

Hatufim is an Israeli TV drama known as Prisoners of War in the English speaking world. I came to know about this through a friend who suggested me to watch Homeland and when I visited the Wikipedia page of the same, I realised that it was inspired by an Israeli TV show and hence, I wanted to watch the original. Whatever I’ve said in my erstwhile reviews of TV shows hold good for this one too, that I see this purely as a story and I’m not going to comment on acting, screenplay, background music or any other aspects of a TV show, for I’m not competent enough to comment on them.

The story starts with a mediator striking a deal in Germany for the return of three Israeli POWs – Nimrod Klein, Uri Zach and Amiel Ben-Horin who had been held by terrorists for seventeen years. While Nimrod and Uri returned safe, Amiel returned in a casket. The focus of the first season is on two things: one, the reintegration of Nimrod and Uri into the mainstream society and into their own family, considering a lot has happened over the years - Nimrod now has a son whom he had never even met and also, sees himself as a burden considering he is not competent to carry out any tasks in the modern world whereas Uri’s fiancé has eventually married his brother; two, IDF psychologist Haim Cohen is under the impression after preliminary investigations that the two of them are hiding something and the same needs to unravelled.

What I liked about this was the setting and the very concept – while it involves the often touched upon subjects of POWs and the effects of torture post release, it also has an element of investigation and mystery in it. Moreover, the writer didn’t rush into the plot and instead, took it step by step – starting with their struggles to reintegrate with their family, into this new world, also the trauma faced by the sister of the deceased; and then moving on to the investigation by Haim Cohen and finally, on to the investigation personally undertaken by Uri and Nimrod, with them knowing that there is a lot more surrounding their captivity than what they know. By gradually stepping things up, the interest of the viewer never went down and it was gripping, to say the least. On the whole, I felt that the balance was right, between all aspects of the story – one, the personal life of the soldiers and the other being the matters surrounding their captivity.

The only thing that disappointed me about the first season was the repeated recalling of the past, which is very often repetitive and also, for someone like me whose one of the many reasons for preferring the written word over visuals is that I can’t bear to watch gory scenes and scenes of torture.

The first season has laid a solid foundation for the series to continue and I feel it is a gift for all those who enjoy thrillers and are also knowledgeable on the Arab-Israeli conflict (though, the knowledge on the latter isn’t mandatory, just helps you enjoy it better) and yes, I’m looking forward to the second season.

Rating – 7/10

Have a nice day,

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