The chapter contends that although Israeli reality is replete with legal issues, very few films deal directly with the law or with a legal process as a central theme. Contemporary Israeli films are not very different from the early Israeli films in their embracement of a national heroic narrative, which typically leaves very little space for legal issues. The chapter demonstrates the absence of law from Israeli cinema by looking closely at war films, which are probably the most popular and influential Israeli films. War films reflect and in the same time participate in the construction of the Israeli collective consciousness, wherein the army experience is central. Tracing the way in which law is presented (or lacks representation) in them may shed light from a new angle on the role of law in shaping social and political norms in Israel.
The chapter explores the role of law in society and its relation to ethical conflicts as reflected through the prism of the film The Third Man. By focusing on the complexities of life in post-war Vienna, the film exposes dilemmas that prevail in ordinary times and in functioning democracies as well. Our analysis suggests that one way to manage these dilemmas and balance the conflicting loyalties and interests they raise is to sustain open channels between the law and other narrative-generating practices from which normative stances are evaluated. The law-and-cinema discourse is one such channel and The Third Man presents, in our eyes, the vitality of that channel, due to its rich aesthetical language and its unique representation of the ethical tensions (and their consequences) in the modern era.