An American Hippie in Israel Blu-ray Review
Written by Kelly Michael Stewart
Blu-ray released by Grindhouse Releasing
Written and directed by Amos Sefer
1972, Region A, 93 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on September 10th, 2013
Asher Tzarfati as Mike
For the most part, films about hippie-counter culture never really work. Usually they play up stereotypes and focus on the clothing and lingo and less on the real people. Easy Rider was the one big exception in this because people in the counter-culture made the film itself. Most others fell into “camp”, and An American Hippie in Israel is no exception. What makes it fun and unique though, is its unique setting both in location and in history.
An American Vietnam vet Mike (Asher Tzarfati) moves to Israel to escape the horrors of the war and life in the western world in general. There he embraces the hippie lifestyle by meeting up with Elizabeth (Lily Avidan), her friend (Tzila Karney), and her oddball Hebrew-speaking boyfriend Komo (Shmuel Wolf). Quickly Mike takes up a leadership position in the hippie community, but they are gunned down in the most unusual scene of mimes with machines guns blasting everyone away. The four survive and travel to an uninhabited island to escape society.
What is truly bizarre about this film is that it takes place in Israel and there is no reference to the struggles in the area at the time (that still continue now, of course) with the Palestinian people. The six-day war had only been a few years earlier and Israel was a country full of struggles for freedom, to say the least. So for a character wanting to be a free spirit, going to Israel had to be one of the oddest choices to visit for this purpose.
I really like Grindhouse Releasing, they bring attention to fun, oddball titles that might have been overlooked. An American Hippie in Israel is for people looking for something oddball and different, but it's hard to say who the audience really is for this film. It is quirky and funny but not insanely ridiculous as other titles they have put out like Gone with the Pope, so don’t expect be falling off the couch laughing at this one. So unless you find hippies themselves riotously funny, An American Hippie in Israel will leave you more with a smile than a giggle.
Video and Audio:
The film quality of of the transfer is serviceable. There are no dropped frames or scratches, but the overall color quality is rather flat, which is especially noticeable on the Blu-Ray.
The audio quality is excellent with only a few pops in the sound and it is available in mono, but there is also a 5.1 audience stereo mix, so you can watch it with the audience reaction from "The Beverly Cinema". The film has been been completely dubbed like an Italian Western, so don't expect perfect sync with the audio and pictures.
The set is available in a beautiful three disc set that include DVD-Blu-Ray combo and a third DVD called The Stranger, which is just an alternate version of An American Hippie in Israel. The extra film is interesting for historical interest but it is of very poor quality and hard to watch.
The set itself is beautifully packaged with liner notes and extensive special features including, deleted scenes and retrospective interviews with the lead actors Asher Tzarfati and Shmuel Wolf.