Golda Meir’s story should be shared with a larger audience as she is celebrated for her role in achieving peace for Israel. Nevertheless, in the pursuit of peace, one often finds themselves cast as a villain in the eyes of a few people, and more often than not, those few people could be your closest friends. Guy Nattiv’s Golda (2023) is particularly remarkable due to Helen Mirren’s outstanding performance. Her acting capabilities are well-known, and she meets high expectations with remarkable brilliance. *Spoilers Ahead*
Golda (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
A little Jewish girl is following her father’s orders and hides herself. There are Russians outside their house, walking on the roads drunk, looking for a Jew to kill for fun. The girl sees terror on her father’s face as he doesn’t know whether he will be able to save his family or not. Every story is crucial as we grow up in our lives. This is the story of Golda Meir, who finds courage amidst the most uncertain times and tells the world many years later that she doesn’t fear the Russians. The statement that changed the world completely in the following years.
Four years have passed since Golda Meir was elected as a caretaker prime minister, and the whole nation is under a notion of invincibility as they have won their recent war. But, in the Fall of 1973, Israel found itself at war with its neighbors. On October 5th, Zvi Zamir, Head of Mossad, meets with Golda and shares information about an upcoming war. Golda doesn’t take it seriously, as this is a time when every day feels like a war. Since Zvi is very persistent, she agrees to meet with her associates.
What Fight Awaits for Golda Behind the Actual War?
The Agranat Commission was established to investigate the reason behind Golda’s delayed decision on the war situation. Golda is questioned about the events on and after the 5th of October when she is first informed about the war situation. Like a zillion times before, Golda lights up her cigarette and straightly admits that she did not know that a threat could lead to a serious war.
However, the real reason for Golda’s delayed decision is something else. We know that Golda is very conscious about the upcoming war and gathers the whole committee right after Zvi’s message. But, before making any decision about the war, she is required to fight for her voice. The whole committee even forgets to show the gestures to take Golda as Prime Minister. The adequates are not there as they do not wait for the Prime Minister to sit down first, or when she enters, the room doesn’t stand up.
Amidst such a situation, when Golda talks about the threat of an upcoming war, her defense minister Moshe Dayan tells her that there is nothing to worry about. But the Military Chief David ‘Dado’ Elazar confirms the threat, and it comes down to Golda to make the decision. She decides to deploy the army and take the threat as seriously as possible at this moment. The war breaks out very soon, and the Egyptian army starts firing shells at the Israeli army.
How Rapidly Changing Scenarios Make Things Tougher for Golda?
Golda has agreed to a ceasefire with Nixon, the President of the United States of America, so even if there is a looming probability of war, she cannot order the first strike. She calls one of her close friends, Henry Kissinger, the Secretary to the President of the United States of America. Henry asks about who shot first, and Golda replies that if she had the chance to shoot first, things would have been much easier for her.
Since the Egyptian army is getting all the support from Russia, Golda seeks help from Kissinger. As a diplomat in that situation, Kissinger assured her that he would put some pressure via talks. But Golda lets him know that whatever Kissinger does, he must keep in mind that unless the Egyptian Government recognizes the Sovereign Nation of Israel, every Egyptian soldier will be forced out of the canal. This means all hell has broken loose, and Golda is going one-on-one with the Egyptian authority.
Meanwhile, Golda suffers from a tumor, and her constant smoking habit is not making things easier for her. She goes to the roof of the operations building to have a smoke. Subsequently, she sees a flock of birds flying in the sky, and the birds go down into a chimney. She comes back down just like a bird going into the chimney, and while walking back to the office chamber, she finds herself wandering in a narrow space.
A bird flies past her. She looks at it as if it is trying to fly away from the building, like a bird fighting against all the odds to make its way out of the chimney, trying to reach out for freedom and peace. She sees the bird within her and knows she must fight. And Golda fights from that point without thinking much about the consequences. She notes down the number of casualties as something to remember for later. She doesn’t want to forget her mistakes but thrives to gain peace for her country.
How Does Golda Confront Sadat?
After numerous attempts to destabilize the Egyptian army, the Israeli army ended up losing more men. There comes a time when the Chinese Farm attacks take place, where the Israeli army has the upper hand. This is the first time Sadat has come to understand the Israeli power even without much American support. But, soon after, the Egyptian army fights back, and the Chinese Farm incident ends up as another loss for the Israeli army.
But Bren soon cuts the Suez Canal from the Cairo road near Kilometer 101. There is not much water on the east bank, so the entire Third Army, consisting of almost 30,000 Egyptian men, will be left with no option but to surrender. This requires Golda’s permission; however, she thinks about what will happen if they do not surrender. Thirty thousand men will definitely die, leaving another army of orphans and widows. But, since she prioritizes her country’s peace first, she agrees with the plan.
Finally, Kissinger gives a call to Golda, saying that she must open a gate so that the 30,000 men don’t die of thirst. Golda says that she will give them water when the Egyptians release the Israeli prisoners. She also asks if Sadat will agree to talk directly to Israel without keeping the USA in the middle. Moreover, she wants Sadat to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation, not as a ‘Zionist Entity.’
Kissinger says that Sadat will never agree to recognize Israel as the other Arab countries will put pressure on him. Golda is very straightforward now, as she knows there is an opportunity to exert both diplomatic pressure on the USA and military pressure on Sadat. She sticks to her conditions, and when Kissinger tells her about the situation with the Russians, she proudly says that she doesn’t fear Russians as she has known fear since childhood.
Golda (2023) Movie Ending Explained:
Whose Blame Does Golda Take Upon?
Kissinger informs Golda that Sadat agrees to talk with the Chief of Staff at a junction on the Suez-Cairo Road, Kilometer 101. So, Dado goes to meet Sadat, and he telephones Golda, saying that Sadat agrees to the talks. He has also recognized Israel as a sovereign nation. Golda has won the war outside but is challenged with another one.
Zvi comes to the celebration party. He informs her that the bugging system through which they received the first information about the war wasn’t switched on on October 5th. But why?
On October 4th, Zeira switched on the system for a technical test. Since it’s a test, none of the lines are being monitored. After the test, the system is switched off until Saturday, October 6th, right before the war occurs. Zeira intercepts a cable on 4th October from the Iraqis to the Russians, telling them that war is about to begin.
Since no one takes the war threats seriously, Zeira keeps the information to himself so that the Israeli army suffers from their unpreparedness. Maybe Zeira wants to strengthen the Israeli army by putting them in such a situation. Or maybe he doesn’t want to be proven wrong for the threats he has always received.
Golda is shocked to hear this, but she takes the blame for it. After the war, in the Commission, she never mentions Zeira’s name, as she perhaps knows that it is because of Zeira’s decision that Israel finally has the opportunity to sign a peace treaty with its neighbors. Or maybe she is just too good a leader who takes responsibility for others’ mistakes and lets them continue to work, trusting in their merits.
Golda died on December 8th, 1978, in a hospital. She removes her oxygen mask and takes her last breath while smoking.
Is Golda (2023) Based on a True Story?
Yes, Guy Nattiv’s Golda is based on a true story. Nicholas Martin wrote the story, dramatizing as little as possible. The narrative revolves around the events of 1973 when an 18-day war broke out on Yom Kippur. The war occurred when the neighboring Arab countries, Egypt and Syria, collectively attacked Israel. Many political pundits blamed the then Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, for not taking action to form the defense earlier.
However, in this film, it is evident that Golda Meir made the crucial decisions that led to the recognition Israel had always sought. She resigned from her post in 1977 after the war. Sadat, the President of Egypt, personally acknowledged Golda’s persistent efforts to achieve peace between Egypt and Israel. No other Prime Minister before Golda had pursued it.
It was because of Golda Meir that the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was eventually signed. When Dado told Golda that Sadat had called her the Prime Minister of Israel, Golda knew the war was won. Golda and Sadat exchanged laughs and gifts in an open conference after the war. Golda even visited with the soldiers despite her inability to walk alone.
At the end of the film, we see dead birds outside Golda’s hospital room. What does it signify? In the Bible, birds or sparrows represent God’s love for His creation. Since Golda is dead now, perhaps it symbolizes the end of God’s love.