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Film / An American Hippie in Israel

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An American Hippie in Israel (Hebrew:הטרמפיסט - HaTrempist, literally "The Hitchhiker") is a 1972 Israeli countercultural film written and directed by Amos Sefer.

The plot involves an American ex-soldier named Mike (played by Asher Tzarfati) who travels to Israel to escape his memories of The Vietnam War. There, he meets three people who share his political beliefs. The group escapes to a small island after barely surviving being gunned down by a pair of stalking mimes. Communications grow sour, and they quickly turn against each other.

Long believed to be lost, the film was rediscovered in 2007 by film historian Yaniv Edelstein, who managed to locate a copy in the possession of one of the film's cast members. Upon its rediscovery, it was screened in Tel Aviv and quickly gained a cult following as a "midnight movie" in a manner similar to The Room (2003). The film is generally regarded as So Bad, It's Good due to its mind-bending premise and numerous technical deficiencies in the areas of scripting, dialogue, cinematography, and English voice dubbing. It's certainly a rather... unique experience, that's for certain.

This film provides examples of:

  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Much of the dialogue has this feel, possibly due to the script being written in Hebrew and then sloppily translated into English. Some samples:
    "World, you’re so full of shit. You’re so badly contaminated that it’s impossible to find a corner free of smell."
    "They turned me into a... murdering machine. You understand? Me at nineteen a murdering machine!"
    "Shut your ass!"
  • Cool Car: Elizabeth's 1964 Chevy Chevelle convertible.
  • Deserted Island: After the massacre, the quartet make their way to a small isolated island off the coast. It is there that they meet their fates.
  • Downer Ending: In spite of their preaching peace and love, the four hippies give in to their primal natures and destroy themselves, meanwhile the two "mimes" are seen driving away in the four's vehicle.
  • Enemy Mime: A mysterious pair of silent gun-toting men in black suits, top hats, and silver makeup stalk the protagonists throughout, mow down the hippie commune save for the four, and ultimately make a getaway in the group's vehicle once they have destroyed themselves.
  • Fanservice: Elizabeth appears topless in quite a few scenes.
  • Language Barrier: Between Mike and Komo, the latter of whom only speaks Hebrew.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Mike is being followed by two pale-skinned men with orange eyes and black suits. We never get an idea what they are or what they want. Mike seems to think they want his life, but is unsure why. They kill most of the hippies and steal the car at the end. It's unclear if they are humans or some sort of supernatural entity.
  • Mind Screw: The entire film is a bizarre acid trip where dream sequences and fantasies come out of nowhere, making it very difficult to tell what is meant to be part of the narrative and what isn't.
  • Non-Human Head: In a dream sequence, Mike comes across two men with reel-based computers for heads.
  • Overcrank: Averted in the sense that the camera couldn't actually record in slow motion, so therefore the actors had to "act" in slow-motion instead. It works about as well as you'd expect.
  • Plot Armor: When the mimes open fire, the commune drops at once; only the four leads, in no special position to survive, get back up.
  • Totally Radical: The dialogue is peppered with gratuitous (and often misused) hippie slang, which when combined with the above-mentioned translation issues, results in some really clunky lines.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Komo is thin, balding, and in general not conventionally attractive. His girlfriend Françoise, by contrast, is a very attractive young woman.
  • Variant Chess: In a dream sequence, two men with computers for heads are seen playing what appears to a chess variant on top of a sphere.