A marked advance on Sontag's first two films (Duet for Cannibals and Brother Carl) in terms of imagination and cogency, this personal essay about contemporary Israel reflects much of the same passion and intelligence to be found in her non-fictional prose. Addressing itself to tragic and contradictory elements in the state of Israel itself rather than a broader consideration of the Arab-Israeli conflict, it intermittently suggests the influence of Russian documentary film-maker Dziga Vertov in its use of sound and grasp of visual syntax. But while many of Vertov's works are songs of celebration, Promised Lands - through statements by a novelist, physicist, psychiatrist, and a harrowing final sequence of a soldier being 'treated' for shock - is closer to the feeling of a scream. Like some of Sontag's other work, it may suffer from an attraction to morbidity that detracts from a wholly lucid exposition.
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