Why history will have you on the edge of your seat

On 11 May, Entebbe explodes into ODEON cinemas. Starring Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl, it’s the astonishing retelling of the 1976 hijacking that shook the world and led to one of the most dramatic rescue missions ever attempted. Here we explain how history can have you onthe edge of your seat...


In late June 1976, an Air France passenger jet flying from Tel Aviv to Paris was overtaken in mid-air by four terrorists: two Palestinian extremists and two leftist German revolutionaries sympathetic to their cause. Armed with guns and bombs, the hijackers forced the plane’s pilots to land the craft in an abandoned terminal in Entebbe, Uganda, where they took everyone on board hostage. Their demands? Five million dollars and the release of more than 50 political prisoners (or they would start killing captives).

Starring Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War, Inglorius Basterds) as the German radicals Brigitte Kuhlmann and Wilfried Böse and directed by Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha, Entebbe recreates that story.


Those familiar with the dramatic events of that summer will know that the hostage situation in Uganda lasted seven days, culminating in Operation Thunderbolt – one of history’s most daring rescue attempts. While the film does an incredible job of recreating that rescue (it really is edge-of-your-seat stuff), it also – just as compellingly – looks at how the decision to send in Israeli special forces, rather than negotiate, was made.   

By showing the points of view of not only the terrorists and their mostly Israeli hostages, but also the politicians as they try to work out how to resolve the situation without significant loss of life (and also, crucially, without tarnishing their careers), viewers get to see every side of the story and consequently make up their own minds about the beginning, middle, end and aftermath of that extraordinary week.



If you know how Operation Thunderbolt ends, you might be wondering whether Entebbe is still worth seeing. The answer is a resounding yes. Not only, as highlighted above, is the plot relayed in a unique way, it’s also brilliantly acted by everyone involved, while the locations, props and vintage clothing are superb, transporting the viewer effortlessly back to 1976.

In addition to its talented director and fantastic international cast, Entebbe also benefits from the considerable knowhow of Kate Solomon and Tim Bevan, the celebrated producing team behind United 93. Released in 2006, this gripping but respectful film dramatised the events of 9/11, specifically the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93 bound for San Francisco, to great acclaim (and two Oscar nominations). Although Solomon especially was reluctant to revisit such difficult subject matter, further investigation into the events between 27 June and 4 July 1976 changed her mind.


It’s been more than 40 years since Operation Thunderbolt, but  Entebbe feels incredibly relevant. As Solomon explains, this was a deliberate move on the part of the film’s makers:

Terrorism continues to occur, and Israel and the Palestinians are still very much in conflict. But by looking at this historical event through many different perspectives, we can better understand the decision making process that got us here.” 

Co-producer Tim Bevan echoes these sentiments and hopes the movie will get people talking – whatever their political leanings.

“Entebbe is a political thriller about a world that’s not dissimilar to our own, and it offers insight into politics that are appropriate to our culture today".

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