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Film / Walk on Water

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Walk on Water (ללכת על המים, Lalekhet Al HaMayim) is a 2004 Israeli film. It is directed by New York-born Israeli director Eytan Fox and stars Lior Ashkenazi, Knut Berger, and Caroline Peters. The screenplay was written by Gal Uchovsky. Most of the dialogue takes place in English, although there is much in Hebrew and German.

Eyal is a Mossad agent who eliminates enemies of Israel. His wife has recently committed suicide, and he doesn't want to admit that he's suffering of it. His chief Menachem decides that he needs to take on a less challenging assignment: tracking the whereabouts of Alfred Himmelman, an aging Nazi war criminal, and get him "before God does".

In order to find the old man, Eyal poses as a tour guide and befriends Himmelman's adult grandchildren — Axel, a gay social worker, and Pia, who decided to cut all ties with her family due to their support of her grandfather and went to Israel to work in a kibbutz as atonement for her family's past.



  • All Gays are Promiscuous: Discussed in the scene in the German gay bar.
  • The Atoner:
    • Pia wants to atone for her family's Nazi past by working in an Israeli kibbutz.
    • Eyal, by the end of the film.
  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: Himmelman took refuge in Argentina after the war.
  • Babies Ever After: Eyal and Pia are shown to be happily married with a child two years after the events of the film.
  • Badass Israeli: Eyal is both a realistic and deconstructed version of the trope.
  • Batman Cold Open: The film opens on a "routine" mission for Eyal: stealthily killing someone who's apparently a terrorist.
  • Black Speech: In Eyal's family of German Holocaust survivors, German became this.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Eyal becomes one following Character Development.
  • Central Theme: Coming to terms with the past.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Eyal. He uses Krav Maga, which is a combat system which relies on a no-rules 'dirty fighting' approach.
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  • Cultural Rebel: The Himmelman siblings. Axel is gay and also a social worker, which is doubly frustrating for his rich and bigoted parents. Pia decided to learn Hebrew and work in Israel after discovering that her parents still kept contact with her Nazi Grandpa, and refused to use the checks they sent to her on top of that.
  • Cunning Linguist: Eyal. He speaks Hebrew, English and German.
  • Da Chief: Menachem is Eyal's by-the-book officer who insists that he must go through psychological tests after the death of his wife.
  • Distant Finale: Two years later, Eyal and Pia are married with a child named Tom.
  • Driven to Suicide: Eyal's wife Iris couldn't handle his Professional Killer life anymore.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Before her fight with their parents, Pia was clearly the responsible one to Axel's foolish, at least in their parents eyes. After Pia fights with her parents, finds herself an Israeli boyfriend and goes to live in a Kibbutz in Israel - she is demoted.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Axel's father wants his son to join the Family Business, but Axel is happier working as an educator, and it doesn't help that his father has been unaccepting of his son's sexuality.
  • Gay Bar Reveal: While it isn't likely that Eyal would have stuck around in any dance bar, when he realizes that he is in a gay bar he seems downright startled and pretty much runs away. And that's a man who can kill with his bare hands.
  • Gay Aesop: Not the actual work, but more in-universe, showing the process that Eyal goes through learning to accept homosexuals.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Seeing Axel in a suit has this effect on Eyal. Earlier in the film he reacts this way to Pia dressing up, as well.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Eyal, after the death of his wife.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Eyal uses Hebrew to do this several times around Axel, and relates an anecdote about his old schoolmates who, on a student exchange to Germany, played a dark "game" by approaching random passersby who were old enough to have been adults during World War II, and asking them in Hebrew "What were you doing when my family was being burnt?".
  • Hidden Depths:
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: What Iris probably thought of Eyal's profession before she committed suicide.
  • Innocent Bystander: The drag queens in the Berlin underground.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Both Axel and Eyal show this briefly when changing (while they discuss anal sex, no less).
  • Manly Tears: Even though he can't cry, Eyal breaks down in remorse in Axel's arms at the end.
  • Matzo Fever: Pia has a thing for tough Israeli men.
  • Nazi Grandpa: Alfred Himmelman. Menachem's mother was part of a group of Jewish people who were apparently killed under this guy's orders during The Holocaust.
  • Nazi Hunter: Eyal is initially reluctant to become one and prefers to let the old Nazi die, but Menachem insists on "punishing him before God does".
  • Poisoned Weapons: Eyal can kill a man in a matter of seconds with his syringe.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Eyal's inability to cry which mysteriously goes away when he can't kill an old man.
  • Save the Villain: Eyal eventually finds himself unable to kill Alfred Himmelman. However, Axel shows up and turns off his grandfather's oxygen tank.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Axel and Eyal, respectively. The contrast is portrayed as a cultural difference, in particular during the scene at the Dead Sea.
    Axel: "Is it true Israeli men don't like to talk about their feelings?"
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Pia's previous Israeli boyfriends broke up with her because of her family's Nazi past.
  • Stepford Smiler: The mother of Axel and Pia keeps smiling, even though she knows they are under scrutiny.
  • Straight Gay: Axel Himmelman is portrayed as neither Camp Gay nor with Manly Gay stereotypes. Because of this, Eyal doesn't realize at first that he's gay at all (though Pia says he once identified himself as such to everyone who he'd meet).
  • Switch to English: Pia speaks some Hebrew, but her brother doesn't speak a word of it, and despite the fact that Eyal speaks perfect German, he hides this in order to spy on the Himmelmans and so for most of the film, the trio switch to English to communicate. The undercover spying part is the in-universe plot point, which makes perfect sense in the story, but English is still used between Axel and Eyal after the revelation that the latter speaks German - of course, the actual, behind-the-scenes-reason is that Lior Ashkenazi's real German is anything but perfect.
  • Title Drop: When Eyal and Axel arrive at the Sea of Galilea, Axel tries to walk on a partially immersed deadwood branch, then trips in the water.
    Eyal: Hey Jesus, they lied to you! It's impossible to walk on water!
  • Twofer Token Minority: Two ethnic minority LGBTQ persons appear in the film - first Rafik, a gay Palestinian who hooks up with Axel at a bar, and later a black drag queen in Berlin.
  • Unable to Cry: Eyal, due to medical reasons. He has to apply eye drops regularly.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Axel spends much of the film as the idealist to Eyal's cynic, but exposure to the harsh realities of life in conflict-ridden Israel does have an effect on him, and the knowledge of his family's Dark Secret and the presence of his grandfather in his house drive him to kill the old man.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: The movies features two gay bars, one in Tel Aviv and one in Berlin.