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I thought I am not a good candidate to write a review about the movie
(Being a Jew who was born in Israel) - Until I saw the other review
here and I was shocked and sadden.
There are many "views" of what really happened in 1948. Each side holds its own view to events, as Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" wisely tells us about the subjectivity of truth and the uncertainty of factual accuracy.
The independence war is part of Israel's collective memory as it is to the Arab side. Of course anything that I will write will be influenced with that filtration - as well as the previous reviewer and possibly the reviewers to follow. We all "own" our subjective truth.
So Instead of replying to the previous reviewer with "my facts" to the events that took place in 1948 in order to contradict his claims, I will halt here and urge you to not to give up upon your believes but to hold them back and see the movie. You will not regret it.
Yes, I know the movie will not be enjoyable to or appreciated by everyone. If you are an Arab or Jew extremist you will probably leave the cinema in the middle of the movie - If you wish to see a one-sided, "the truth is here" movie I suggest you see a Michael Moore movie.
But if you wish to see a movie with a brilliant script that tries to touch the human triumph and tragedies of the 1948 war with a superb cast that will make you shed a tear this movie for you.
O Jerusalem is certainly a good step in the right direction. It does
not claim to be a historically pin-point accurate epic, but it does
cover most of the salient events of that period in history.
I have personally known Abdelqader Al-Husseini, and Major later Colonel Abdallah Al-Tal. The first was the son of one of the top aristocratic families in Jerusalem, and the second hails from a large tribe in the area of Irbid in what is known today as Jordan. As the film shows, Husseini was let down by the Arab League and was killed in action during the Qastal operation. That corresponds to the facts. When Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre wrote their book bearing the same name as the film, they interviewed Husseini's sons. One of whom was Faysal Husseini of Orient House fame, and who died of a heart attack a few years ago.
Major Tal's intervention during the fighting in Jerusalem was not sanctioned by the British Chief of Staff of the Arab Legion (i.e. the Jordanian Army), General Glubb Pasha, and only hesitantly if at all by King Abdullah. The latter was already pursuing secret negotiations with Golda Meir and Moshe Sharett about getting a piece of Palestine for himself (An act of high treason at that time, at least as far as the Palestinians were concerned). Major Tal's personal military initiative in Jerusalem secured the eastern part of the city for King Abdullah, but also for the Palestinians, until the 1967 Six Day war. But Abdullah became jealous because of Al-Tal's popularity and accused him of trying to seize power in Jordan in order to annex it to Syria (pretty disingenuous!) Al-Tal spent the next twenty years or so as a political refugee in Egypt. To check what Major Tal said during the encounter between him and the Haganah leaders (Moshe Dayan), interested individuals can read Dayan's and Al-Tal's memoirs (probably translated from Arabic by the IDF, and/or possibly by one of the Pentagon many agencies.
The film perpetuates a line that has been discredited by historians on all sides, namely purporting that the "Arab governments asked the Palestinians to abandon their homes and leave their country so that the Arab armies could fight the "Jews" with ease". Nobody did call, and nobody would have responded to such a call. But Egypt and Jordan took every possible measure to prevent the Palestinians from acquiring weapons, and non-Palestinian volunteers were not encouraged to participate in the fighting.
What is never clarified about the Palestinian-Israeli question, including by the Palestinians themselves, is that they did not rise against the Jewish Arab community that had lived among them for millenia, not even the few Europeans who had settled there during the Ottoman Empire. When, in the latter part of the 1920s and on, a new breed of mainly Eastern European Jewish immigrants escaping the horrors in Europe had started arriving into the country essentially with British help, and with the intent of creating a Jewish-only state; the only way for them to achieve that of course was by force. Nobody can fault anyone for resorting to force to oppose that predicament.
I saw the DVD only yesterday in French, though it was obvious that the actors were speaking English, and the French was dubbed over it. I am looking for an English version if such exists. As for the change of title from "Beyond Friendship", which was probably going to appear in English, it is quite possible, though I cannot swear to it, that pressure was put on the distributors to avoid marketing the film in the USA. But then many of the actors are French.
Some of the text titles translated into Arabic, and the name of a street or two in Jerusalem were not accurately translated or properly spelled in the film.
Elie Chouraqui may be related to the famous André Chouraqui, who translated the Qoran into French, i.e. they should have a good understanding of the Arabic language and culture.
All in all, the film could be a good discussion topic for both sides, to give events their proper names and historic dimensions in search for mutual accommodation. That is of course if they are willing and able to undertake this necessary exercise for the sake of their sanity, the future of their children and world peace. Otherwise they have no other choice! If you prefer, you may comment on my review in French.
I enjoyed this film and I'm going to review it instead of discussing
the pros and cons of Israel/Palestine.
I saw it at Cinema Sundays at the Charles, here in Baltimore MD USA.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not Jewish, and I am anti-Israel and pro-Palestine.
At Cinema Sundays, the host is Jewish, and this week's discussion leader is also Jewish -- I think I'm safe in saying it's a largely Jewish group which goes to Cinema Sundays and attended this screening. Although a show of hands said that more liked it than disliked it, the host and discussion leader didn't like it at all --- the discussion leader had even skipped the pre-screening the day before -- his reason seemed to boil down to he had better things to do.
The discussion was largely (but not all) panning the film.
I thought (with one glaring exception, which I won't reveal here) that the movie was balanced, while telling the story primarily from the Jewish side. In the foreground, it concerns an American Jew and an Arab Palestinian who meet in the U.S. and become friends. Each finds himself going to Palestine in 1947, knowing that a conflict is coming, a struggle for control of the land. The story of these two men and their friends and lovers is in the foreground, and in the background is the story of the British leaving Palestine, and the U.N. vote for partition.
There's a fair amount of violence, sudden, unexpected violence realistically portrayed. However, there's no enjoyment of the mayhem, and but little glorification of it.
I felt well-informed by the movie in terms of its telling of the story of the birth of Israel. I think this is good story-telling -- although, of course, the two main characters keep encountering each other even after they split up - well, duh, it's a movie about these two characters! :o) A little cinematic license. There's a very touching and emotional scene near the end which had me riveted.
I think the story is told relatively objectively (which is to say, more objectively than, say, 90% of news coverage here in the USA, which overwhelmingly favors Israel) while holding out hope for reconciliation between Arabs and Jews in Israel/Palestine. And, I have to say, I think that's why so many people at Cinema Sundays disliked the movie, without really being able to articulate why ("I've seen this all before, oversimplified, unlikely...") -- because it was objective and told the Arab side, and portrayed the Palestinians as human beings who suffered in the partition.
I give it an 8 because of the one pulled punch, which I thought destroyed the balance of the film. I'll discuss that on the Message Boards, as I don't want to Spoil the movie.
I first saw the trailer for this film some five or six years ago and
then never heard of it again, which was a shame because I was really
looking forward to seeing it on a big screen, shame then that it all
but vanished and hasn't to the best of my knowledge ever had a proper
release on UK shores. (I imported the DVD)
Though as quoted by others, this is based on the book of the same name, it only draws on the factual detail and uses the more human stories for its focus which for a drama dealing with an issue as complex and as controversial as the formation of the state of Israel is essential. Set against the backdrop of the events of 1946 in Palestine and the violence that followed, two friends who meet in America, one Arab and one Jewish find themselves on opposing sides of a conflict that is beyond their own making. Both of them realising that violence is not the solution do their best to stay out of it, but ultimately find this unavoidable.
The film focuses on their attempts to understand and deal with the historical events that they face, of which they little control over but have no choice but to get involved in.
The film has its strong points. The historical attention to period detail is very well done, the budget for this production is NOT low, as another reviewer has stated (factually inaccurate) nor does it look so. The blend of actual news footage from the time slips seamlessly with the way the film has been shot and invokes a feeling of genuine history. Points of history are sign posted with titles and everything is told neatly in chronological order.
Where the film is weaker however is the script. The friendship of the two friends feels rushed and unlikely, the acting is variable, some scenes are handled well while others feel the need to rush straight into melodrama without any real emotional investment to get there. On that level it feels more like a drama documentary where a mini-series would probably have served it better. Our main characters seem to just flow along with the story as the historical events unfold, rather than really being fully involved in them, maybe that's the point, but the strength of their emotional journey gets lost. The death of several supporting characters never seems to have the impact that it should and its hard to pin down the exact reason for this, but the scene at the end falls especially flat when it should have had me in tears.
Those criticisms aside this doesn't mean the film makes for uninteresting viewing. I have no personal affiliation to any side of this conflict, and the film seemed initially to strive to give both sides an equal voice, (Possibly Israel gets more screen time but their own atrocities in the conflict are not overlooked) certainly at first I didn't feel a bias one way or another, but after the first half it felt the Jewish characters became more and more noble where as the Arabs became more and more one dimensional but this just makes me want to do my own research on the subject, but does it make for a good movie?
The high production values, good acting despite struggling with a fairly orderly historical script, attention to detail and nice photography all make the film well above average. Nice turns from supporting cast such as Tom Conti, the under rated Rene Zagger and the ever strong Ian Holm give the leading cast great back up and Saïd Taghmaoui is always very watchable but their talents do make some of the weaker players stand out a little.
A film on this topic is going to stir emotions on anyone who might have an affiliation with one side or another, so maybe its more important what those who have little understanding of the origins of this seemingly never ending conflict gain some understanding of how it started and as a starting point for that education, you can certainly do far far worse than this. As a well made historical epic its not a bad film at all.
Unfortunately where the film is less convincing is in the conflict between the friendship of the two leads, I found it unrealistic and somewhat unbelievable and didn't quite create the dichotomy I had hoped for but simply watching the events of history unfold still made for captivating viewing.
This is a conflict I would love to see finally resolved in my life time for the sake of the generations that will follow in the footsteps of their relatives who were involved in these events. Dismissing the film so easily is simply not a tenable opinion.
There aren't enough films on this subject to make this one irrelevant and the simple truth is that no film on this topic will ever be completely successful, just as the search for an answer to finally allow all those involved to live side by side in harmony will go on for some time yet. If you have even the vaguest interest in the subject and can watch it from a neutral stand point, I would recommend it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We had expected that film for decades and we finally get it. The
absolute irresponsibility of the English in Palestine, the horrendous
tragedy of nazism symbolized by the concentration camps as the final
solution to the Jewish problem, the extreme barbarity of the extremist
Jewish groups, the naive complacent blindness of many on both sides,
these are the main reasons why the creation of Israel was more tragic
than it should have been. Instead of a multicultural and multi-ethnic
state, Isarel was founded as a Jewish state, that is to say a state
whose definition was purely religious. For millenia the Jews and the
Arabs had lived in normal peaceful relations, except when the
Christians decided to come and crusade around in the Middle East, but
suddenly the absolute absurdity of the international community was to
find the berserk compromise of splitting Jerusalem in two, as a
collateral decision of the creation of a Jewish state. Since 1948 the
situation has little changed and it is war after war, a quasi permanent
state of war. The film is admirable because it follows the historical
situation through the eyes of a few young people who knew and loved one
another deeply before coming to Palestine, in fact in New York, one
Arab, three Jews and one Christian. It thus becomes the story of the
uprooting of these friendships and loves, the impossible uprooting that
dramatizes every step in this struggle, on both the Jewish and the Arab
sides, and makes it become little by little more and more cosmic in the
emotional intensity it assumes day after day, night after night. To
marry the woman you love in the very last five minutes of her life
erases any religious dimension in the ceremony that only becomes the
mark of the deepest suffering of all : the suffering of a hope that
seems to glide away with a sneer from your grip, especially when one of
the witnesses of this Jewish wedding is the Arab friend of the two
aspiring husband and wife and the son of the leader of the Arab
community who was killed in the fight by the very bridegroom. This is a
rewriting of the impossible love of so many tragedies, and first of all
Romeo and Juliet, but in such a different context that it becomes a
divine surprise that can easily lead to the rebirth of the hope that
may have died in the meantime, but a hope that lives and strives in our
own minds that one day soon Jerusalem will finally no longer be cut by
a wall, that one day Palestine will be one again, in a way or another,
for both the Jews and the Arabs, equal in dignity, equal in history,
equal in faith and equal in love. When will dates be shared again and
the agenda of Palestine be moving along one unified line. Here is the
film we had all hoped would come one day like the prophet announcing
the real Second Coming of peace on this earth for all the children of
the only and yet multiple, or even absolutely non-religious, God of all
men and women of good faith and quivering heart. We know it should be
soon, but how soon we don't know. Suffering has been bad enough for it
to stop now, at once, instantly, immediately. That is at least my
deepest wish because we all have to love the Jews and the Arabs as our
direct soul-brothers. But there are so many bitter intentions among us
that love may wither away and eventually even die.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Paris Dauphine & University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
Although the film describes historical events in a relatively balanced way, eventually tends to tip the balance on the Israeli side, like most movies that reach the western circuit. I guess that the producers coming from that side or afraid of failing in the US market, highly influenced by the Jewish lobby, is behind that.. Why French actors were involved in this project? At the end a story of friendship in a world in conflict but a more dispassionate and objective look is needed. That a successful best seller was the main source does not ensure that the script will match (this is the case). In light of current events, the somewhat romantic look in other movies (Exodus for example) is given on the emergence of the state of Israel, is at least anomalous. Some of it is on this film.
The subject of this film is difficult, a friendship and a war that
comes in between friends. I would have given it a 9 but the propaganda
in the film brings it down big time. This is not a historical film but
it appears that some key dates have been followed.
Why do I call it a propaganda film? Because, it shows good and bad on both sides but actually it subtly forces the viewer to sympathise with one side. This is the art of propaganda. Also called brainwashing which keeps happening again and again. It feels that we will see many more propaganda films in the future. Also, the Brits got the wrong end of the stick, which is almost funny.
The two main characters, Bobby and Said are very likable as they appear as very genuine blokes. Their friendship is a real pleasure to watch, shame it was used to cover up the real agenda.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is my first crack at critiquing a movie on IMDb. I saw it last night and thought the movie makers did a good job at expressing their point of view, which I also thought was very well worth considering. Someone had posted a very negative review, and then warned to stay away from the movie; the next reviewer replied to that by making a statement about the subjectivity of truth. I wanted to post my agreement to the second reviewer. I think what should be stayed "away" from is suppressing information just because the suppressor does not understand the value of the information. The movie "O Jerusalem" portrays little known facts about some well known characters (David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, King Hussein, etc.), as they might have related to Jewish and Arab fictional characters who lived in America and were friends, during the birth of the nation of Israel. These fictional friends all went to Jerusalem, and were separated through their participation in activities on opposing sides of the conflict. Blood brothers, separated by opposing political views, and eventually finding themselves fighting each other during the American Civil War, comes to mind. What the movie "O Jerusalem" portrays may not have actually happened, but it is easy to see that it could have happened.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first and foremost am a man for peace, no matter on what side you may
consider me after this review. For me this is truly a story about love.
A love between two friends, a love between and Arab and Jew of course,
and yet a brotherly love between two human beings. Aren't we all human
beings? Shouldn't we all be destined to love each other. This is also a
story of choices. The choice of the Arab main character (Said) either
to let his American friend (Bobby) die, or save him. And he made the
right choice. The choice of the same Arab to shoot his friend and yet
again, he made the right choice. The same goes of course to the
American main character. Sadly, others made lesser right choices. I may
just be referring to the themes of this movie, but regarding this
aspect, and only this side of a truly complex subject, where the line
between right and wrong and guilt and innocence is so blurred now
hardly anyone can set foot on this subject without being accused of
extremism b by side or the other...and the themes are in my opinion
well portrayed. Love. Friendship. Bravery against all odds when others
are making the wrong choices, taking up guns and fighting a battle they
have already lost at the hands of the colonial powers. Because let's
face it. This is neither the Arab's nor the Jew's fault. It is the
fault of a coward colonial power who only decided to save its own neck
and buy unloading itself of the Jewish lobby it has been carrying
around for the past decades, and not look back one second to the chaos
it has brewed. It has even gone as far as "abstaining" from the vote.
Hypocrites. But the movies shows it all. From both sides. Although I am
not acquainted with the history, I get the feeling that the story is
genuine and true. That this is what really and sadly happened, which
brings us to the present day situation where nothing has changed and
everything has worsened.
The most powerful scene for me is of course the last scene so powerfully played. Bobby knew she was going to die and she knew she was going to die, and so did everyone else around them. Yet, he still decided to marry her. A selfless and truly heroic act. One that would fill the world with wonder if other people had but a trickle of it.
This movie can't deserve a score. It does not deserve a score. To give it a score would be to limit to to a few acting criteria, some special effects, or other cinematographic jumbo I can't get my head around. But my review is more about the themes of the movie itself, which was awe-inspiringly portrayed.
So give it whatever you want. Personally, I loved it!
That, oh so poignant verse from Psalm 137 altogether sums my
impressions of the film. By all means, I am kind with my assessment.
This should have been a great film, provided, the Hollywood script
writers followed the book's theme. Alas, they did not; what else is new
under the sun!
Despite its potential, the film did not explore or enunciate enough two of its main themes: the futility of war and more important, man's continued penchant to inflict inhumanity on fellow man. Oh yes, Bobby Golden Boy Goldman, one of the film's major players does indeed state either or both of those strong tenets even boldly. However, he does so en passant. Moreover, his excellent points are nonetheless made moot as the director cuts to the chase and the next bloodied then quickly sanitized atrocious conflict scene time and again. And there were so many of these telegraphed, goofy scenes. So many in fact,that soon I lost count.
Not long after, quite frankly I lost any or all lingering interest to stick it out until the curtain fell. Thank God for that tender mercy. This low budget, grade 'B' production could not end soon enough.
Before I exit, I must say that the film's depiction of the British protector-ship of the former Palestine was well, pathetic. Yes, we got it; the Thin Red Line had already gone bald and lost all of its former glory by that point. However, to paint them redder, er, yellow and to make them appear more inept even treacherous to the Hebrew cause, is well taking many creative, film making liberties.
Sure, the Brits neglected their peace keeping role while there. Even General Barker voiced his 'haaarrumph' stilted opinion and attested to that very fact while protesting to the then backpedaling, fleeing British High Commissioner. Still, he did so in a not so poignant manner nor propitious moment. No matter. The film had already gone so far south that it was difficult for me to discern which way lay O Jerusalem let alone the true path to peace.
I believe, the director and producer, though in an odd way tried to make their best case (whatever that was, we will never know). To wit, they could have done better with the film's plot if they had invested more time in exploring that noble road map to peace theme. No doubt, that lofty goal was well within their grasp and cinematic scope. However, all too predictably they instead chose to either neglect it, cut it first pass, or simply cast it aside altogether, just the same.
Like the British, Hollywood just could not help themselves nor the script. At every turn the actors fumbled the football, or bungled the entire dialog until finally, together, the flimsy cast and entire film crew botched what should have been an otherwise beautiful, possibly even most edifying film.
Forget about it!
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