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Hilla Lavie and Asaf Tal
The Hero's Wife (1963), Israeli Film Poster
El Dorado (1963), Israeli Film Poster
This article offers an alternative to the prevalent historiographic paradigm in the academic research of Israeli cinema. Menachem Golan’s El Dorado and Peter Frye’s The Hero’s Wife from 1963 are generally ascribed to opposite genres in Israeli cinema, the former being a commercial production and the latter an ideological art film. These films were the first to represent sex on the Israeli silver screen. In the spirit of Michel Foucault and Linda Williams, this article refers to sex scenes as a constitutive event within the film, one that expresses central cultural perceptions. A close analysis of these scenes in El Dorado and The Hero’s Wife exposes their common ground, i.e., a sense of disharmony in the relations between the private and the public sphere, as well as an intrinsic association between victimhood, recognition, and eroticism. These elements are not only shared by these two films but are also widespread in Israeli cinema as a whole. This article discusses the historical background for these elements and distinguishes between contemporaneous motifs and those that are relevant in the present day. Through these elements, the article sets the grounds for a historiography that is based on continuity rather than rupture and shared perspectives rather than opposites.