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Francis L. Sullivan
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In a life and a film of said life full of ironies, Ingrid Bergman who was suffering from cancer got to play the life story of another cancer sufferer, one who lived with the disease and did her best work with it hanging overhead. Judy Davis and Ingrid Bergman played a younger and older version of Golda Meir, first female Prime Minister of the state of Israel and a role model for the human race.
Before writing this review I checked the Wikipedia article on Meir and I can attest the film is a truly factual account of her life. It is told in flashback as Meir is appearing at her old grade school in Milwaukee where she immigrated to as a child, escaping the pogroms of Czarist Russia in Kiev where she was born. And the story begins there where a young frightened girl hides and forms the conviction that she would dedicate her life to Zionism. Stories like that are what made the backbone of the future state of Israel.
When Davis was playing the younger Meir, named Meyersohn then, she had been wooed and married to Leonard Nimoy who followed her to the territory of Palestine under British mandate then and lived on a Kibbutz. Her iron will and drive made her rise to the leadership of that Kibbutz and her career was on its way. She also had two children and eventually separated from Nimoy who resented taking second place to her vision. Israel, it's founding and preservation came first and always.
By the time of the Israeli independence and the war for its creation with five Arab neighboring states Bergman has taken the role. She is a regal and commanding presence as Golda Meir. Bergman and Meir almost blend in what turned out to be Ingrid Bergman's farewell performance. Some players sadly go out playing in some awful films like Bette Davis or Errol Flynn. In Bergman's case she got a part every bit as good as her Oscar winning roles in Anastasia, Gaslight, and Murder On The Orient Express. She's nothing short of magnificent and the Emmy she got for this made for TV film was well earned.
Israel still waits for the day that her Arab neighbors will decide whether they love their children more than they hate the Jews as Bergman so eloquently put it. Until that day comes may Israel produce such leaders as Golda Meir who I like to think of as the founding mother of Israel.
This film is living history and should be seen and reseen by all.
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