In 1947, following the U.N. decision to split British Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, a former U.S. Army officer is recruited by the Jews to reorganize the Haganah.In 1947, following the U.N. decision to split British Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, a former U.S. Army officer is recruited by the Jews to reorganize the Haganah.In 1947, following the U.N. decision to split British Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, a former U.S. Army officer is recruited by the Jews to reorganize the Haganah.
On its own merits it isn't a bad film though it's certainly not a very good one either . The problem is that " Epic " is often a euphemism for " bloated " , therefore we get to see the main protagonists war experience and family life . Why do we have to see all this ? one can speculate that the war sequences is an excuse to shoehorn John Wayne in to the film that'll appeal to all the manly men in the audience and the family life of the protagonist will get women flocking in to the cinema . It also has the unnecessary addition of Frank Sinatra which like Wayne seems to be included to give box office appeal
It's not just the lack of brevity that's the flaw but the sometimes embellishment to the story that doesn't do it any favours . Some other commentators have gone in to detail so I won't dwell to much upon it but one noticeable aspect is that the Israelis in 1948 are portrayed to being total strangers to war which isn't in any way true . The British Army had a Jewish brigade which served in Italy during the war and were engaged in some very tough fighting in 1944 . Likewise Palmach and Haganah members would have had military experience fighting against Arabs in the Special Night Squads during the Arab revolts of 1938-39 and wouldn't be the inexperienced military virgins as seen here . Sadly the film doesn't make the point that the Irgun and Stern Gang were the purveyors of modern day terrorism that EOKA , the Provisional IRA and many other terrorist organisations modelled themselves upon until Al Quada took terrorism to new depths , but if you've got a Hollywood movie and it contains Brits as an occupying power then it's easy to turn a blind eye , but to be fair it points out it's better to be occupied by the British than the French
That said the Brits aren't full blown villains and the American view of Israelis is I imagine not as black and white as it would be today regardless of your politics . In 1948 the American State Department was very suspicious about Israel since many of its inhabitants were from Eastern European countries and Eastern European equalled communist in American eyes with Zionist support for the country confined to a small American Jewish lobby . The film does touch upon the fact that the fledgling Jewish state obtained its weapons from the international black market rather than being supplied by America with America realising that the Arab lands contain an awful lot of oil so best not to annoy them . It should be remembered that the first arms supply from America to Israel didn't happen till 1965 and the often overstated influence America has over the Israeli state wouldn't have existed when this film was released
In summary CAST A GIANT SHADOW is a relatively entertaining yarn but it's a melodramatic Hollywood movie using big names to make money for the studio . If you're interested in finding out the proper history of the creation of Israel it's a much better idea to read a book on the subject with the only problem trying to find a totally unbiased book on the subject
- Theo Robertson
- Aug 23, 2013