Blaumilch Canal

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Blaumilch Canal
Blaumilch.jpg
Directed by Ephraim Kishon
Produced by Roni Ya'ackov
Starring Bomba Tzur
Nissim Azikri
Shaike Ophir
Shraga Friedman
Release date
1969 (Israel)
November 10, 1970 (U.S.)
July 10, 1969 (West Germany)
Running time
95 minutes (87 minutes in the German version)
Country Israel
Language Hebrew
German

Blaumilch Canal (international release title: The Big Dig) is a 1969 Israeli comedy satire written and directed by Ephraim Kishon, depicting the madness of bureaucracy through a municipality’s reaction to the actions of a lunatic.

The film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Blaumilch is a lunatic with a digging compulsion who escapes from an insane asylum. Stealing a jackhammer, he proceeds to dig-up one of Tel Aviv's busiest traffic arteries, at the junctions of Allenby, Ben Yehuda and Pinsker Streets, in front of iconic Mugrabi Cinema.[2]

Rather than question his actions, the police and city officials assume he is operating under the municipality’s orders, and aid him as much as they can. Complaints from local residents, whose lives become a living hell due to the noise and traffic jams, lead to infighting amongst city departments. To speed up the work, so that it can be completed before the upcoming municipal elections, the city sends armies of construction workers and heavy equipment to help the lone jackhammer-operator, turning a mere annoyance into a full-blown disaster.

Hauled before a police commissioner to explain why they attempted to sabotage municipal construction equipment, the residents give a vocal rendition of the noises they are subjected to every day, until the commissioner himself yells for quiet.

By the time city officials realize they are destroying a street without any plans or goals in sight, it is too late: Allenby Street is connected with the Mediterranean Sea and a canal is created. The mayor then declares, in a flamboyant opening ceremony, that Tel Aviv has been turned into the Venice of the Middle East.

In an ironic twist Ziegler, a low-level municipal administrator, is the only one to realize that the 'project' was the work of a lunatic; he is laughed at and himself branded a lunatic. In the final scene, Blaumilch is seen digging up Kings of Israel Square (today Rabin Square), which fronts the Tel Aviv Municipality building.

Cast[edit]

  • Bomba Tzur as Blaumilch
  • Nissim Azikri as Yehezkel Ziegler
  • Shraga Friedman as Dr. Avigdor Kooiybishevsky
  • Gideon Singer as Police Chief Akiva Levkowicz
  • Shaike Ophir as the police officer
  • Mosko Alkalai as Zelig Schultheiss
  • Reuven Bar-Yotam as Foreman

Production notes[edit]

Blaumilch Canal was the largest Israeli movie production at the time it was made. Tel Aviv’s Allenby Street was reconstructed in Herzelia Studios, as well as a 100-foot (30 m) long canal. Paul Smith was uncredited assistant director,[3] and the cast consisted of some of the most prominent Israeli actors of the time and hundreds of extras.

Blau milch in German means "blue milk."

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kaye, Helen (12 April 2002). "All in a life's work". Jerusalem Post. p. 16. 
  2. ^ Mugrabi Cinema (קולנוע מוגרבי), Hebrew Wikipedia
  3. ^ Interview with Ephraim Kishon and actress Miriam Gavireli on Israel Educational Television [1]