The theme is the founding of the state of Israel. The action begins on a ship filled with Jewish immigrants bound for Israel who are being off loaded on Cyprus. An Intelligence officer succeeds in getting them back on board their ship only to have the harbor blocked by the British with whom they must negotiate. The second part of the film is about the situation in Israel as independence is declared and most of their neighbors attack them. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
The film repeats a historical error contained in the original novel, when Karen tells Dov about how King Christian X of Denmark publicly wore a yellow Star of David in defiance of a Nazi order that all Danish Jews do so. In fact this incident never occurred - Danish Jews were never ordered to wear the yellow star. See more »
The island of Cyprus, madame. World famous for beauty, and long, tragic history. Been conquered many times, conquered by Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians, Macedonians; also conquered by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Turks. Purchased from Turkey by your esteemed self, the British Empire. All Cyprus most wanted the British.
I'm an American.
Fond of Americans, also; we Cypriots are fond of everybody.
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Opening credits shown over a background of flames. See more »
Early in the film, while discussing the squabbling between Jews and Arabs over Palestine, an exasperated Eva Marie Saint sighs and asks "How is it all going to end?" How indeed! It is a question the world has asked for more than half a century, and to date there is no answer in sight.
Concerning the creation of the Jewish state of Israel, the 1958 Leon Uris novel EXODUS was among the great bestsellers of its era and remains widely read to this day. The 1960 film version was also widely admired at the time of its release--but it is seldom seen today. There is a reason for that. In spite of its reputation, the film is remarkably slapdash. The cinematography is poor, lacking arresting visuals and often so sloppy that the shadows of the boom mikes are visible here, there, and everywhere throughout the film. The sound mix is also quite poor, with post-production effects as much off the mark as they are on. But the great flaws here are the script and the cast.
Written for the screen by Dalton Trumbo, the script has a very artificial and very talky quality. This might be overlooked if Trumbo actually had anything to say in the process--but he does not, and a remarkably gifted cast struggles vainly against one artificial line after another. Paul Newman is horrifically miscast; Eva Marie Saint, Ralph Richardson, and Lee J. Cobb fare a bit better, but Jill Haworth is chiefly memorable for giving the single worst performance in the film. As for Sal Mineo's much lauded performance, today it seems extremely theatrical.
Even so, EXODUS would remain passable were it not for the incredibly naive brand of Zionism the film adopts. More than fifty years later after endless wars, waves of terrorism, and failed peace talks we all know that it was NEVER as simple as this movie would have us believe. When all is said and done, the most memorable thing about EXODUS is the Academy Award-winning score by Ernest Gold, which really is as good as every one says it is.
The film is presently available to the homemarket as a no-frills DVD. Final thought: it has moments of interest and on rare occasions even brilliance, but those moments are few and far between. Best left to those who remember it fondly from its 1960 debut.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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