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Live and Become (2005)
"Va, vis et deviens" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  1 February 2008 (USA)
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 4,661 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 50 critic

In 1980 the black Falashas in Ethiopia are recognised as genuine Jews. In turn they are secretly carried to Israel. The day before the transport the son of a Jewish mother dies. In his ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Yael
...
Yoram
Moshe Agazai ...
Schlomo enfant
Moshe Abebe ...
Schlomo adolescent
Sirak M. Sabahat ...
Schlomo adulte
Yitzhak Edgar ...
Le Qès Amara
Roni Hadar ...
Sara
Rami Danon ...
Papy
Mimi Abonesh Kebede ...
Hana - la mère Juive Ethiopienne
Meskie Shibru Sivan ...
La mère de Schlomo
Raymonde Abecassis ...
Suzy
Yosi Alfi ...
Rabbin Talmud Tora (as Yossi Alfi)
Shmil Ben Ari ...
Directeur internat (as Shmil Ben-Ari)
Shlomo Vishinsky ...
Le policier
Shai Fredo ...
Le traducteur
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Storyline

In 1980 the black Falashas in Ethiopia are recognised as genuine Jews. In turn they are secretly carried to Israel. The day before the transport the son of a Jewish mother dies. In his place and with his name (Schlomo) she takes a Christian 9-year-old boy. Upon arrival this second mother dies. Schlomo is adopted by a good family but remains depressed until he secretly sends a letter to his real mother. From the beginning he experiences large and small racist difficulties. In his teens he and Sarah fall in love. Her father is an extreme racist. Schlomo tries to gain "real Jewishness" by winning a competition in Bible interpretation. No change of Sarah's father's attitude. Disappointed he goes to the police and reports himself as not being a Jew. But the police officer just gives him a scolding. "The newspapers are full of that stuff, the Falashas are no Jews. Now they begin to believe it themselves." His adoptive parents send him to France to study medicine. When he afterwards marries ... Written by Max Scharnberg, Stockholm, Sweden

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

jew | love | israel | letter | christian | See All (105) »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Language:

| |

Release Date:

1 February 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Live and Become  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Visa d'exploitation en France # 106667 See more »

Quotes

Schlomo adolescent: Should we give back land we consider our own. We were deprived of it in our wanderings and had no other to call our own. And now we finally have it back and we love it...
Papy: This tree provides shade. We planted it 50 years ago. But the tree over there; it was there before we got here. I think we should share the land, like the sun and the shade, so that others can know love too.
Schlomo adolescent: Even if we risk being pushed to the sea and dying?
Papy: Love dosen't come without risks. And it's difficult to decide how ...
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User Reviews

 
'Deny thy mother, and refuse thy name...'
3 May 2007 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

The closing night of last year's San Francisco Jewish Film Festival turned out to be more than just the screening of a movie. There was drama in the Castro Theater, many in a mostly Jewish audience sobbing audibly in response to the story of an Ethopian child escaping to Israel by pretending to be Jewish. In June 2007, "Live and Become" is being released commercially in the U.S.

Forty-seven-year-old Radu Mihaileanu - Romanian-born, raised in Israel, now a French filmmaker, director of the much-honored "Train of Life" - created a complex, honest, deeply affecting work in "Live and Become" ("Va, vis et deviens"). In the post-Holocaust world of many Jews trying to pass for gentile, Mihaileanu's true and truthful story shows the opposite: a mother's denial of a child as her own, forcing him to adopt a new identity and religion in order to survive - as a Jew, in Israel, escaping the deadly Ethopian famine and war.

Yet another meaningful reference is Imre Gyöngyössy's 1983 "The Revolt of Job" ("Jób lázadása"), about a Hungarian Jewish peasant couple adopting a Christian child, raising him as a Christian, and refuse to recognize him as their own when they are being taken away, again to assure the child's survival. (The child lived, and grew up to be the writer and director of the film about his own story.) Mihaileanu's film is based on true events. In 1985, the Mossad supervised an amazing drive, "Operation Moses," the airlift of thousands of Falasha, Ethiopian Jews, believed to be descendants of Menilek I, the son of the Queen of Sheba (Makeda) and King Solomon. Thousands died on the march to Sudan where the Israeli airlift operated, but even more escaped, arrived in Israel, were accepted by the country - if not without religious and political controversy.

History and politics are just the background to "Live and Become," the title stemming from the heartbreaking command of the boy's mother: go, don't tell anyone who you really are, become a Jew, do not come back.

Three actors play Schlomo (the name given to the boy at the Ellis-Island-like refugee center) at various times of his life. The film's greatest impact is from the child Schlomo (Moshe Agazai), who must learn new customs, a new religion, Hebrew, Yiddish, and French (of his adoptive parents) at the same, forgetting his Amharic. His initial transition from the refugee camp to modern Israel is astonishing, at one unforgettable moment, while taking his first shower, he is trying to stop the water from going down the drain, panicking at the sinful waste.

Mihaileanu is a skilled, powerful moviemaker: he is sticking to the central message, staying with his characters, keeps telling what is the truth for them, but the direction, acting, cinematography are glossy-professional. What makes the film extraordinary - what creates all the crying in the audience - is its honest and effective portrayal of the young refugee's isolation and loneliness, made worse by his belief that his escape is at the cost of his mother's life, in exchange for a lie he feels he must live, even as he becomes an authentic member of Israeli society.

The cast is uniformly outstanding, but Schlomo's adoptive parents are especially memorable. Moroccan-Israeli actress Yael Abecassis' warmth and strength, Moroccan-French actor Roschdy Zem's rough integrity create a true and enviable family environment - but there is nothing easy or false about the young refugee's difficult journey and internal tribulations.


7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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