Yellow Asphalt consists of three stories about the intersection
of Bedouin and Israel lives. An Israeli film that was shot on location
in the Judean Desert, the movie looks at how the two different cultures
view life and death. The interesting thing is that the film is politically
neutral, not favoring one side over the other. Unfortunately this
even handed treatment doesn't make the movie good. The film is never
engaging and comes close to sinking to the level of melodrama.
The first story concerns two Israeli truck drivers carrying a load through
the desert. They turn a sharp curve and accidently hit and kill a
young Bedouin boy. When the boy's family discovers his death, the
situation nearly becomes violent except for the quick thinking of one of
The middle tale is concerns a Bedouin couple who aren't happy together.
The wife wants a divorce and to take her two children and leave, but the
father won't let his children go. The tribe elders decree that the
woman should return home and take care of her family. Not liking
this solution, the woman leaves in the middle of the night with her daughters.
The rest of this segment is given over to a chase scene through the desert.
The last and longest film involves an married man who is having an affair
with a Bedouin woman who is also married. When it is discovered that
the woman has been unfaithful, her husband beats her. He would have
killed her, but she manages to escape and return to the home of her lover.
Not wanting to break up his family, the Jewish man orders his Bedouin field
hand kill her. The hand takes her out into the desert, but can't
murder her, so he tells her to leave and not return. But return she
does and this time she is killed, by her lover while the field hand watches.
The field hand is the one whom the tribe suspects of murder though, and
he soon has much more trouble than he bargained for.
Though this movie most likely presents an accurate look at the lives
of modern Bedouins and the Jews that live near them, it was lacking in
depth. There wasn't much in the way of characterization, and consequently
it was hard to care about any of the people in the film. Why did
the Bedouin woman have an affair if she knew her tribe would kill her for
it? Why didn't the hired help go to the police or the tribe elders
after he witnessed a murder? Most of the time the motivations for
peoples actions weren't explained, and I was left scratching my head.
The first two segments were really too short and didn't amount to much.
The second story wasn't anything more than a big chase scene. In
this section, I think the director wanted you to feel sympathy for the
woman, but her reasons for leaving are never explained. She admits
that her husband doesn't hit her or demean her, yet she steals his children
from her. I was actually hoping that her husband would catch her.
The acting was mediocre at best. People didn't react in a realistic
way most of the time. When the two truckers kill the boy in the first
story, they get out and walk slowly to boy, not looking concerned at all.
When they are about two yards from him, the driver suddenly that the boy
he hit with he truck that was doing 60 MPH might be hurt and runs the last
two steps toward him. The bedouins seem to have no reaction to the
dead boy either, save for his mother. In all of the stories the actors
behave mechanically, like they are following orders rather than actually
being the characters they were portraying.
While I appreciate that this wasn't a preachy film, when all was said
and done, it didn't say much at all. While it did look at the relationship
between the Bedouin tribes and Jewish settlers in Israel, it didn't really
say much about the relationship. Because of this it doesn't work
as a documentary, and the stories are too thin for the film to work as
just plain entertainment.
The two channel Hebrew and Arabic soundtrack was about average.
The dialog was easy to make out and there was a fair amount of dynamic
range. There wasn't any significant audio defects, but there wasn't
anything outstanding either. The sound quality fit the movie.
One thing that I was really disappointed to see was that the English subtitles
were burned into the print, and are not removable.
The video quality of this movie was only so-so. I was expecting
better from a recent film. The image is a little soft, with details
being a little blurry. There was a fair bit of grain or digital noise
in the image, and surprisingly there were some spots too. The color
and contrast were fine, and the movie wasn't hard to watch, it just didn't
look as clean as a recent movie should. The film was also presented
in full screen. I couldn't find an official aspect ratio, but since
it was theatrically released, I would be astounded if this was the film's
intended aspect ratio.
The only extras on this disc is the theatrical trailer.
People who are interesting in Arab-Israeli relationships might find
something worthwhile in this film. I wasn't able to though.
None of these three stories were able to capture my interest. The
lack of characterization and motivation meant that I didn't really care
what happened to any of the characters. I found the first story the
most interesting, but was perplexed by the ending. It went down hill
from there. This would be a good movie to avoid. Skip it.