Land of the Little People

Land of the Little People Page

Synopsis

In a village community of military officers, four young kids form a small gang. An old abandoned army base, located in the surrounding wild fields, turns into their camp. Another war breaks out in Israel, and most men are drafted to serve their country. While the mothers are sitting worried in front of the television sets, listening to the constant news reports, the unsupervised kids return to their camp in the wild. To their surprise, they discover two soldiers who deserted their units, using their camp as a hideout. The children try to regain control over their stolen territory, but the soldiers hold their ground. A ruthless struggle develops between the two sides, and the soldiers, who sought refuge from the war outside, find themselves in another war altogether, which turns out to be just as bloody and dangerous.

Land of the Little People

Story:

Somewhere in Israel there is a small neighborhood, whose residents are professional soldiers and their families. It’s a quiet place with little houses with red roofs, surrounded by little green gardens. Four children, aged 11, who live in that neighborhood, form their own small “combat unit”.

Chemi, whose father is an infantry commander, is the leader of the gang, or so he believes. Chemi wants to be like his father, and so he treats the small gang as his own military unit. The other gang members include: Louie, a hyper-active child, whose parents are divorced. Tali is the only girl in the gang and all the boys are trying to impress her. Tali’s father was killed in the war.  The last member of the gang is Yonatan, a fragile kid who wears glasses and is always lagging behind the others.

Not too far from the neighborhood, in the wild fields that surround it, stands an old abandoned army base. The kids are not allowed to go there, but they always find their way to that magical place. They build their stronghold in one of the only standing structures in the abandoned military base – a stone shed with an ancient dry well inside. The Kids believe there is a monster at the bottom of the well, and they hunt small animals in order to feed it.

The story begins when a war breaks out (the Second Lebanon War, or the military operation in Gaza, the kids are not that familiar with the details). The fathers go out to war to serve their country, and the mothers sit in front of the television and hear the never-ending news reports. The kids, with no one to supervise them, go to the abandoned base. To their surprise, when they get there they find two soldiers who deserted their units. The soldiers are hiding in the gang’s secret shed and are helping themselves to things the gang had left behind. The gang decides to do everything within its power to make the soldiers go away.

Since all they have as weapons are wooden crossbows, the group believes that the key to win over the soldiers is to steal their gun. Even though Chemi is the leader, impulsive Louie takes the initiative, sneaks into the shed while the soldiers are busy outside and steals their gun. With this powerful weapon in their hands, the kids are overwhelmed with joy. They chase each other to the edge of the military base, and stand on the top of the cliff overlooking a remote nudist beach, in which only one couple is “playing” in the water. Louie tries to shoot the gun but doesn’t know how to operate it. Chemi, whose father owns a similar military handgun, takes the weapon into his hand and shoots it. The others look at him with excitement as he aims and shoots at the beach down below. The blow of the gun surprises the gang members and they run into the wild field that grows inside the abandoned military base, shouting like Indians. While running, Tali falls directly into one of the soldier’s arms. Apparently, he heard the gun-shot and realized his gun was stolen. The boys appear and confront the soldier, while Chemi points the gun straight at him. The other soldier surprises Chemi from the back and disarms him. The soldiers are Yaron (muscular and serious-looking, 20 years of age) and Tzvi (Thin and wild looking, also 20 years old). They warn the kids not to show up again in the area. Yaron even goes so far as to slap Chemi on his face, reproaching him for playing with the gun.

The ordeal with the soldiers shatters the children’s small gang. Chemi loses not only the gun that gave them power over the soldiers, but also his dignity when his friends saw him shed tears after being slapped by Yaron. Back in the neighborhood each of the children goes back to his own reality. Yonatan to his room and his computer games, Tali to her childish girly friends, and Chemi to his pregnant mother who slips into one of her depressions. Thirsty for action, Louie gets into trouble when he steals his delinquent older brother’s diesel motor driven bicycles and crashes it in a road accident. Bruised and hunted, Louie needs to find shelter and wait until his father comes back from the war to settle the quarrel with his brother. The only good hiding place he knows is the shed in the abandoned military base, which fell into the hands of the “enemy”.

Meanwhile, solidarity among the “enemy” ranks is starting to crack. Yaron and Tzvi, who had never been good friends, clash and fight among themselves. Yaron knows he had made a mistake by deserting the army, but he starts to realize that his bigger mistake was doing it with impulsive and childish Tzvi.

Even though he was beaten and humiliated, Chemi does not surrender to fear and is seeking revenge. The next morning he finds it hard to reassemble his gang. The only one who is ready to join him is Yonatan, who is a coward and weak and prefers fighting enemies in computer games to confronting the real-life dangerous soldiers. But Chemi knows how to push all the right buttons and recruits him to the cause. When Yonatan offers Chemi to use the new red pointer crossbow he had built, Chemi ridicules him for playing with children’s toys. The mission is to steal the soldiers’ gun once again, as Chemi believes that only this kind of weapon can give them the leverage they need.

Heading back to the abandoned military base with a plan to steal the gun from the soldiers, the two children realize how difficult it is to operate without their friends – Tali for the courage she inspires, and Louie for his bravery. The plan, though very smart, fails, and eventually Yonatan falls into the soldiers’ hands. Chemi hides in the bushes and doesn’t know what to do. His hopes are dashed and Yonatan is paying dearly for his failure.

When caught trying to steal the gun, hysteric Yonatan shoots at Tzvi and then throws the gun into the well. Tzvi is only slightly wounded, but the gun at the bottom of the old well raises a very serious problem for the soldiers – they can’t leave without it. After trying to climb down the rotten ladder and almost dying in the attempt, Yaron decides that Yonatan is lighter and is more likely to climb down without breaking the ladder. Forced to take upon himself this daunting mission, Yonatan disappears inside the well and doesn’t answer Yaron’s calls.

Meanwhile, Louie is chased all around the neighborhood by his brother’s gang. At the last moment, Louie is rescued by Tali, and finds refuge at her garden shed. It seems that finally someone found the way to win her heart.

Back in the abandoned base, Chemi is trying to repress all his troubles, but realizes that something needs to be done, if not for his sake, then for Yonatan’s. By nightfall he gets back to the neighborhood to look for his friends. When he realizes Louie is in trouble and is nowhere to be found, he manages to overcome his shyness and knocks on Tali’s door. She’s not at home. Just before he leaves, he hears noises coming from the garden shed and finds Tali and Louie playing and being very intimate with each other. Seeing that, he bursts out in anger and attacks Louie violently. Only when Tali’s mother comes to inquire about the noise, the two boys stop fighting. Chemi, Tali and Louie then leave the house running, and start walking the streets. After settling their own disagreements they need to take action in order to free Yonatan and win back their territory.

When morning comes, wounded Tzvi decides he needs to leave. Yaron still can’t believe he had lost the gun and that he may be found guilty for Yonatan’s death.. He can’t leave the place that way. He wonders where he can possibly go now?! On his way out, Tzvi falls into the reunited gang’s ambush and is being led back to the shed. Yaron comes out and tells the kids that he let Yonatan go back home, and now Tzvi and him are leaving. When the soldiers are gone, Yonatan emerges from the bottom of the well with the gun in his hand. The kids hug him and look at him in a new way. But soon enough they realize that the soldiers will never leave without the gun, and that they are only waiting to take it back. The kids devise a new plan, and now, feeling powerful with the gun and their newly-found courage, they place the bait and launch “the hunt”.

Being so familiar with the territory, the gang overpower the soldiers by the end of the day. The results of the fight are stained with the soldier’s blood. When the gang get back to the neighborhood they realize the war is over and the real soldiers are back home. Chemi hugs his father and in an instant goes back to being just a kid.


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