Live and Become (2005) Poster

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Fascinating, Moving Story of a Falasha
genevadavid1 May 2005
Twenty-four hours after seeing this extraordinary, multi-layered film about a boy who is airlifted out of Ethiopia and brought to Israel, I am still reviewing images in my mind and wondering at the courage and audacity that must have been necessary to bring this story to the screen.

Salomon was nine years old, living in a desperate refugee camp in Sudan. In late 1984, there was a covert Israeli-American operation to save Ethiopian Jews, known as Falashas, by airlifting them to Israel. The Falashas, are a small branch of the Diaspora. But as they lined up for their exodus, Salomon's mother tells him firmly to "go, live and become", the title of the movie. She saw in the exodus an opportunity for her son to escape the death, disease, famine and civil war that were ravaging Ethiopia. Salomon's mother would stay behind.

The trauma of being told by his mother to leave was already strong stuff. But there is more; Salomon is not even a Falasha. So the arrival in modern Israel is a double shock for him. However, Salomon becomes Schlomo, and we see that he is a quick learner. He learns Hebrew and, when he is adopted by a bi-lingual French-Hebrew family, he learns French, too.

However, Schlomo has a persistent and profound desire to see his mother again. He is wounded. On top of that injury, he has to deal with racism and bigotry in Israel, while hiding the fact that he is not a Falasha. Schlomo carries a lot of emotional baggage, but he has some good people rooting for him. Like the Yarom and Yael, the couple who adopt Schlomo, and Sara, the girl who has him firmly in her sights. The story of Schlomo's trials and tribulations is moving on several levels.

What makes this film audacious is that it confronts the question "who is a Jew". The answer is not self-evident. Indeed, the question has been the subject of impassioned debate in Israel for years. The Falashas are just one case study. It is simply remarkable that someone would make a film that touches on this issue. Bravo!
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The pain of feeling alone
Howard Schumann10 April 2006
The images we see of Ethiopians are often those of children with distended bellies clinging to life as a Western television announcer comments about their depressing fate. No one, however, speaks for the children. Winner of the Audience Award at the Berlin Film Festival, Radu Mihaileanu's Live and Become gives words to people whose voices have been silent. The film tells the story of Ethiopian Black Jews known as Falashas who were brought to Israel in Operation Moses in 1984 by the Israeli Mossad. It was an operation that successfully airlifted 8,000 Ethiopean Jews to Israel, but sadly also one in which 4,000 died during a brutal journey on foot to Sudan or later in refugee camps.

Mihaileanu (Train of Life) was born in Bucharest, Romania to Jewish parents who had spent time in the Nazi labor camps. In 1980, like the film's protagonist, he was torn from his parents when he fled the dictatorship of Ciaucescu to move to Israel and later to France. In Live and Become, a boy clinging to his mother in the Sudan is told by her to "go, live and become". She tells him that he must pretend to be a Jew and instructs him to remember that his name is Solomon, his father's name was Isaac, and his sister's name was Aster. The film spans fifteen years in the life of young Solomon (called Schlomo by the Israelis), describing his experiences of being alone into a foreign country that speaks a language he doesn't understand and filled with people of a different religion and a different color. Mihaileanu crams a great deal into the film's 142-minute length and it often seems cluttered, yet we can listen and understand its heart and the clear voice in which it speaks to us.

As he reaches Tel-Aviv, Schlomo begins the long processes of absorption and integration into Israeli society but the barriers engendered by social and cultural differences prove difficult to bear. He angrily acts out his frustration in a boarding school in Tel Aviv and is sent for adoption to a left-wing French Sephardic family, Yoram and Yaël Harrari (Roschdy Zem and Yaël Abecassis), who already have two children. They are a close-knit, warm and loving family but face many problems with the boy they did not anticipate. Yael must fight the prejudice of parents in the school who want to withdraw their children from school because they think, coming from Africa, he must be a carrier of disease.

At first refusing to eat, he makes an effort to fit in but hears over and over that because he is black he is not really a Jew. A battle erupts within Israel between fundamentalists and Orthodox Jews over the premise of a black Jew and Schlomo is caught in the middle. Afraid of being discovered as a Christian, the boy immerses himself in Jewish theology, learns Hebrew and French and studies the Torah, yet he carries the burden of his lie around with him. The story then jumps ahead a few years. As a good-looking teenager (Moshe Abebe) Schlomo meets Sarah (Roni Hadar), a white girl he likes but must contend with the virulent racism of her father. Rebelling against the authority of his surrogate parents, the boy is sent to a kibbutz to work and study but maintains a correspondence with Sarah.

As Schlomo (Sirak M. Sabahat as an adult) grows into adulthood and takes responsibility for his guilt, he feels compelled to confess his inner truth and the film capitalizes on every touch of his personal drama. Live and Become tackles one of the most controversial subjects in Israel, that of Jewish identity and racial purity. While it does not hesitate to show the ugly side of Israeli life, it also embraces its humor, sensitivity, and compassion. Although unfortunately the film occasionally slips into cliché, Live and Become works because it is about more than the experience of one person. It tells a universal story of alienation, wanting to belong, and the pain of feeling alone, feelings shared by people of all religions throughout the world.
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Its a 10
john-224422 June 2005
I saw this at the Shanghai film festival,it was called there -Live and become- I knew nothing about it. It is one of the few film that gave me a history lesson as well as complete entertainment. I really didn't notice the Cinematography or even the music. the story was encapsulating,and albeit fiction,had that real aura that made you think that something identical or very close ,has actually happened. The young Schlomo was excellent as was the mother-in fact I really couldn't find a weak performance. If you liked The Last Emperor or Dances with Wolves this movie should have a similar effect. I know quite a lot about both the countries involved in this story and I thought the director was flawless in portraying each culture. He was also flawless in taking you down one path, and just when you thought it was safe and predictable-he would rush you to another, surprising, even better place. It taught me things I didn't know and brought out emotions that have been dormant a while. A stimulating,informative masterpiece.
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Simply life-affirming
johnnieoz12 February 2005
Just returned from the first screening of this movie. An amazing start to the Berlinale Film Festival. It was long (2 and 1/2 hours), absorbing, well-scripted/acted, and very moving. The director and the lead actor were there afterwards and we applauded them heartily. This is what a film festival is about.

The basic plot follows the life of a young Ethiopian boy, Shlomo, whose mother realizes that he can be saved if he poses as one of the Falashas, the Ethiopian Jews. They were clandestinely airlifted to Israel from Sudan in the mid 1980s. This is a story of migration,assimilation and identity through the eyes of an individual. It shows how Israel deals with these 'different' Jews, how he deals with not really being one of them, how he is adopted by an idealistic left-wing family, falls in love with a young Israeli girl whose father is a racist, and his ongoing inner-dialogue with his mother still somewhere in a Sudanese refugee camp. Very multi-layered, critical without being moralistic and preachy. Unlike Mr. Mihaileanu's other big movie "The Train of Life" this is not a comedy, but it contains plenty of warmth and humor, and also stars a Shlomo.
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'Deny thy mother, and refuse thy name...'
janos4513 May 2007
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.
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another heartbreaking story from radu
styavuz15 October 2005
In my opinion, Radu Mihaileanu, the genius director of 'Train de Vie', has created his masterpiece in his second film. This is the story of an African boy who returns to life from the brink of death. The movie depicts his fight, his ambitions, passions and the power of love. It is a very weird experience for me to enjoy a movie telling the story of a black Jewish! boy. I think, this movie must also play a very important role in the war against racism. There has been a huge conflict for decades in Middle East between Palestine and Israel. I hope that the sense of humanity and love in this movie will help ending all conflicts on earth. Never forget that same creator has created all of us and Adam was a redskin.
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Living a lie
jotix1001 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
A film of epic proportions, "Va, vis et deviens", shows an excellent director, Radu Mihaileunu at his best. Mr. Miahueunu, who co-wrote the screen play with Alain Michel Blanc, gives us a slice of life in this life affirming film that will please audiences because the way these two men decided to present their story that centers around a tragedy perpetrated in Africa.

A young Ethiopian child sees enough devastation around him. When he is separated from his own mother, a kind Jewish black woman, advises him to assume a new identity, that of an Ethiopian Jew, so he will qualify to be taken to Israel, part of a plan to help settle these unfortunate people in the land of milk and honey. The young man, who has witnessed enough tragedy during his short years, goes along and is taken to a place where he has no one, or even belong.

Schlomo, as he is called, is lucky enough to be adopted by a kind Israeli family with two young children of their own. Being black in an almost all white society has its disadvantages, as the young man learns early on. The love of his adoptive parents should have been sufficient, but he is a child that knows he doesn't belong among these nice people that have opened their home, and accept him. Schlomo, who we see through different aspects of his life, as a boy, then a teen ager, and a grown man, meets an older Jewish black man, another fellow Ethiopian, who helps him overcome his fears and ask him to come clean, not only to Sarah, the woman who loves him, but to everybody. The big secret he has been carrying all his life, is a burden keeps him enslaved all his life, revealing it, will free him of the tremendous guilt in his heart.

There are excellent all around performances in the film. Yael Abecassis and Roschay Zen, who play the adoptive parents make a tremendous contribution to the film. The young Schlomo is acted by three different actors, all of them good. They contribute to make this, one of the most credible movies in a while.

The hauntingly beautiful music of Arman Amar, and the cinematography of Semy Chevin, make the film even better to watch. The director, Radu Mihaileunu shows great sensitivity with the material and turns a great picture that will be hard to forget.
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Many films are to be seen, but few to be chewed and digested.
ew403726 September 2006
I am an old man and an inveterate cinema-goer since my early youth. I admit that I have been and still am perhaps rather too demanding where films are concerned because, to be honest, out of the innumerable films I have enjoyed throughout the long years of my life, the ones that really succeeded in stunning me as masterpieces which nailed me to my seat from the start of the projection to its very end can be counted on the fingers of one hand. But "Va,vis et deviens" is most certainly one of them in all respects. It aims directly at what is noble in us, and it does so in simple and understandable terms. Pity that the word "excellent" is used so frequently these days, for I now feel the need of yet a stronger adjective to qualify this film.
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elbazal4 January 2006
I have just finished watching "vas vis et deviens" and must say that this is one of the most thought provoking pictures i have seen in a longtime. Many controversial issues were raised. Although racism and the never ending question of "who is a Jew?" were raised , less obvious, more subdued issues were also dealt with. The most intriguing issue raised deals with separating state and religion. The viewer essentially comes to see situations in shades of grey. The viewer is asked to find himself in the Israeli government without the movie even dealing with governmental issues. Not only are you constantly challenged in this movie but you will be offended and intrigued by it. This is a definite must see.
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Come, see and win
Weredegu15 February 2007
I can only talk in superlatives about this movie. It's so powerful that it takes a second viewing to realize that in fact it's even more powerful... Yes, there is a history lesson in it (Falashas, Middle East, Cold War, Gulf War etc.), and yes, it's an interesting tale about a person whom you just have to think to be real, but more than that, it's so universal in its way of talking about our search for a secure identity... searching for it in a process at the end of which we hope to end up in some nice future at the same time not having forgotten that what was precious in our past. To arrive at that, so much help is needed from good people you can trust, or so much luck, if you want to say it that way... This film will make you realize that and in the process it will awaken in you an overwhelming feeling of respect for human dignity as well.

To Radu Mihaileanu I can only say, continue to give us this good films, please. If it takes years of research as it did in this case, so be it. Oh, and I hope to see all of the actors, too, again some day. How stupid of me, I will, of course, at the third viewing of 'Va, vis et deviens'.
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One of the most emotionally upsetting films ever made
robert-temple-12 March 2011
The writer and director of this utterly amazing and gut-wrenching film is the Romanian Jewish emigré to Paris, Radu Mihaileanu (born 1958). Every shot, every detail, every performance, and all the dialogue, is completely and totally brilliant. That perfection, plus Mihaileanu's impassioned fury, is what gives this film its unique power. The film contains many unknown actors and actresses who have never appeared in anything before or since, and they are often the most effective people in the film, under the director's sure and sympathetic hand. The film deals with the strange story of the people known as the 'Falashas'. People in the West who are old enough to remember the news stories of 1980 may dimly recall the incidents, as they were so bizarre as to seem almost incredible at the time. The Falashas certainly made front page news for weeks. The Falashas are the so-called 'black Jews' of Ethiopia. They had lived for perhaps 2,000 years or more as a tiny minority in Ethiopia, and they are of Ethiopian blood. But instead of being Christians like the majority of Ethiopians, they are Jews. No one knows how or why they became Jews or what their original story really is. Then one day the Israeli Government decided to rescue them from the oppressive Mengistu Regime which existed in Ethiopia in 1980 (Mengistu was a fanatical communist of the Stalinist persuasion, and a psychopathic mass murderer). The Israelis wanted to airlift all of the Falashas and take them to Israel! But this had to be done in total secrecy. Also, the Israelis could not land their aircraft in Ethiopia, so the Falashas had to make their own way on foot to the Sudan, from where they would be collected from a giant refugee camp which existed there. So 12,000 Falashas set out for the Sudan in a vast and tattered migration, 4,000 of them dying on the way. Only 8,000 reached their destination more than 1,000 miles away, dehydrated, starving, ill, and exhausted, and many of them dying. The story of the film commences in the camp, when a Falasha woman holds her very young son dead in her arms and realizes that she has lost everything; she herself is also dying. Meanwhile, an Ethiopian Christian woman and her son of the same age are also in the same part of the camp, but they are still healthy. The Christian woman pretends that her son is the dead boy so that he can be evacuated as a Jew, and the Falasha woman decides to help him and agrees to the deception. The Israelis come and are fanatical about screening out the Christians and will only take Jews, so they interview them mercilessly. The boy has been told to say he is called Solomon ('Schlomo' in Israel), his father is Isaac, he is told the village name, etc., to convinced the Israelis. But he does not want to go and leave his mother, whom he loves above all else. She turns harsh with him and pushes him away and says: 'Go, live and become! And only after you have become, then come back to me!' They are both heart-broken. Both the Ethiopian women are amazing, overwhelmingly effective despite being non-professionals. So the boy is swept up in the evacuation and gets through the Israeli screening process. He and a plane-load of Falashas land in Tell Aviv, dazed and totally confused. They are kept in isolation for months and repeatedly screened. And that is only the beginning of the long and emotional story. The little boy is brilliantly portrayed by a genuine Falashsa boy named Mosche Agazai, and equally brilliantly played as an adolescent by another real Falasha, Moshe Abebe. Because 'Schlomo' has been so upset, he had become unruly and so a left-wing Israeli couple with two children of their own adopt him, and he moves into an affluent suburban house. His adoptive mother is wonderfully portrayed by an experienced and sensitive Israeli actress named Yaël Abecassis. The boy befriends a wise old Falasha, whose family all died, played by Yitzhak Edgar. And finally, Schlomo as an adult is portrayed by Sirak M. Sabahat. The remarkable thing is that none of the people I have mentioned apart from the Israeli actress has acted in any other film, and yet they all did better than any professional cast could conceivably have done. The intensity of their performances is searing and never to be forgotten. This film is a great classic, which should be entered in the annals of world cinema as one of the most moving films ever made. The film is also a massive indictment of hypocrisy and intolerance, as experienced in Israel by the Falashas after their arrival. They were abused, insulted, and subjected to a bombardment of hate and prejudice of incredible proportions, and this is graphically shown in the story. As an adolescent and adult, Schlomo is loved by a white Israeli girl named Sara, beautifully and sensitively portrayed by the young Roni Hadar (who has gone on subsequently to appear on TV and in another film). Her father is a violent bigot who thinks the Faslashas are sub-human, and the irony of Jews classifying other people as 'untermenschen' is not lost on us! Every aspect of this tale is anguished, and so much of it is heart-rendingly tragic. Some of it turns out well, however. Schlomo grows up to be a medical doctor and despite the alienation from his adoptive father, retains the devoted love of his adoptive mother.The talent of Mihaileanu is best of all shown in one of the most breathtakingly brilliant final shots ever to be seen in any film, though of course I am not permitted to describe it here. Radu Mihaileanu is certainly a cinematic genius of the first rank, and he has proved it again in his equally amazing film, THE CONCERT (2009, see my review).
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Best Film Ever
umbie3 October 2007
This is one of the best films i have ever seen . It was only scheduled for one screening at Van film fest in 2005 but after an email campaign got a second screening, peoples choice award and subsequently general release, still not seen by as many as it deserves. Sublime! It should be part of every schools curriculum. If its the only film you ever see , let this be it. The direction, storytelling , performances are all heart wrenching and uplifting. The fact that i am writing about it 2 years later says something! It restored my faith in cinema and the power it has to change and empower lives. English title is 'Live and Become" Does anyone know if its on DVD or video?
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please support this wonderful film!
maj czep8 October 2006
OK, so i may have some gripes with it artistically, but when you consider the fact that this is one of the first feature films dealing with the migration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel made by people who actually lived through the experience, those factors become less important. This film has spirit, and that is hard to come by these days. It's imperfections, I think, lie in the fact that this story has been kept under wraps for so long and it was difficult for the filmmakers to know where to begin. It touches on most of the major issues that refugees face in Israel, and is a strong and inspiring beginning to opening up this experience to further filmic treatment. Word has it that the distributors are currently trying to get enough viewer-ship for this film to reach New York and LA, so please support this film! It is an experience not to be missed.
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So (Mother) moon watches over us
aharmas7 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
2008 is proving to be an outstanding year for all types of movies, from the sheer beautiful heart of Wall-E to the pure emotional powerhouse that "Live and Become" turns out to be.

A human story of epic proportions takes us on an emotional roller-coaster as one child tries to be true to himself and survive in a world full of contradictions, pretty much like walking on an emotional minefield. Already devastated by a traumatic childhood, when he leaves him unable to connect with others as he adapts to a new life, a new family, a new religious culture that is both embracing and hostile at times.

"Live and Become" contains devastating moments, as Sholomon desperately tries not to sever his ties with the mother he left behind. There is plenty of emotional turmoil as he keeps who love from connecting with him. There is Yael, his adoptive mother, who unselfishly loves him and tries to support him throughout the story, and eventually we meet Sarah, another source of both love and disappointment for our protagonist.

Until the very end, Sholomon appears to be in a state of emotional confusion, but he slowly begins to understand who truly loves him and understands him. Nothing prepares you for the devastating conclusion. "Live and Become" will make feel, look inside yourself, and hopefully will allow to be more understanding of those whose lives are not as fortunate as ours.
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powerful emotional
jeromezz2 February 2007
Obscure topics allows new perspectives. Removing us from our surroundings so completely this show gives us unique perspectives. Powerful, have you ever been mean to a new comer? I bet you have even if by accident. You will regret that after this.

What is it to be a newcomer? Well now we have a better idea. Live and Become is perspective.

Inspiration abounds; what a family story, what a childhood story, what a freedom story, the honesty of it; it is a tremendous trembling perspective. Just walking barefoot has never been so amazing.

This subject is not popular, -a story about a black orphan trying to become a Jewish Israeli. Watching this story somehow becomes more private because it is so obscure. If this movie gets the audience it deserves it will diminish its uniqueness. Really worth watching but if you do keep it secret.
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Reminds you what good Cinema is...
Sirus_5116 January 2007
I was more then just pleasantly surprised, I was stunned.

This movie is a must because the story is sometimes beautiful, sometimes harsh and mostly touching. Its about Identity, a sons obligation and love. Its about survival and guilt.

There are many things that just grabbed me about this film. How somethings where never what they seemed. Like how his strict adoptive father who seemed a bit distant and disappointed in him fought hard for Shlomo no matter what. Or strangely humorous when Shlomo goes to confess to the police his crime but they believe that he is being brainwashed by propaganda.

Sara his soul-mate he almost loses not by the truth but by the lie in covering up the truth, the Doctor who lied to get him to Isreal or the wise Old man who writes letters for Shlomo to his mother are a few of the interesting characters that add to the masterpiece.

Thru trails and tribulations he finally finds himself. Back where he started, back to his mother in a finishing scene that brought a tear to my eye.

A must have.
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Important film; Go, See and Learn..
pinkas-22 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The story of Shlomo, the little Ethiopian boy who was sent by his loving mother to live in Israel, might be familiar to hundreds of children who had to emigrate alone, by themselves, to Israel at one point.

I know of many stories after the holocaust in 2nd world war, and lately from the Russian-Jews.

But this story has a different angle; Shlomo is black. Well if it wasn't difficult enough - little Shlomo faces enormous challenges in his new country and with his true identity.

Very interesting story, which - by all accounts - resonates truth.

Try to see it if you can.
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Unexpectedly Moving
EmmaRobert17 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I went to see this movie just today, not having planned to, but simply because I was too late to see what I originally wanted to, (Something Like Happiness). Friends had been pressuring me to see Live and Become for awhile, but I refused, thinking it seemed to focus too much on the political.

Well, am I glad I got to see this one. Nine-year old Shlomo leaves Ethiopia pretending to be a Jew, saved by "Operation Moses". He promises his Jewish 'mother', when she dies, never to tell of his real Christian mother, left behind, since non-Jews discovered by the Operation are sent back to Ethiopia. He eventually begins a life with the Harraris, an Isreali-French family, and the story goes well beyond the refugee life.

The story of Shlomo, an Ethiopian refugee escaping from awful circumstances, is not a new one. Movies about war refugees abound, but originality is irrelevant. I came in expecting weepy, overdone, politically motivated. I rolled my eyes when the boy's mother said "Go! Live and become!", and then cried the very moment Hana took his hand and claimed to be his mum.

This movie is slightly uneven in the sense that scenes with overwrought dialogue are scattered throughout it, but I never thought of it until afterward. I wept a bit, surprised by it every time, my cynical self not being accustomed to crying at the movies. There are also quite funny parts, for example when the rescued children first watch television, all of them sit behind it, waiting to see when the people inside will come out. I recommend this movie; strong performances, a wonderful story. The two and a half hours truly fly by.
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makes you understand God and love so much better
andjel_ko31 May 2006
i have seen this movie yesterday and i couldn't stop thinking about it afterwards so i would like to share this thoughts with you. but before philosophy just to mention some other aspects of the film i liked.

music was a little bit weird but always in a right place, as if she was following our young protagonist and the way he feels - sometimes silent, sometimes loud, sometimes religious or even disco music. soundtrack does not represent perfect harmony but it fits perfectly to the movie. The protagonist, Schlomo, is great - i mean as an actor. particularly the first Schlomo who, with no more than 12 years spoke three very different languages. There is also a lot of humor in the movie (sometimes mixed with tragedy but important to keep us sticked to this more than 2 hours long movie).

okey, and now to the religious speculations. This movie is about a boy who searches his identity but don't want to forget his roots because he knows that his future depends on it. He has more mothers during the film, but there is a mother that he respects very much and it is mother earth, mother Africa - the land on which he take his shoes off and walk barefoot. he is born Christian. to survive he has to become an hebrew but soon he enters in a family that is not religious but simply pacifistic. This boy, Schlomo seeks God. he talks with the moon, he pray beneath the wall of cry, he changes religions but he remains faithful to God and his religious tradition. How is it possible? In the background of the story there are many religious wars and Sclomo observes them. what i understood at the end is that it is important to do our religious rites, to respect our religious traditions (i for example as a catholic Christian) but be aware that god is bigger than i imagine him. we understand god in our limited capacity of understanding and often in a wrong way, but sometimes we manage to love thanks to our religion. God reveals him in human experience of love.

and so i arrive to the second (first is religion) main theme of the movie - love. Schlomo learns how to love. he loves his original mother but he'll have to learn to love his new father, his girlfriend and ultimately every person that needs help and need to be loved. he will learn that lust is not love, and that love is expressed through helping and at the end he will be richly rewarded for learning his lesson well. Do your lesson and watch this movie!
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An excellent film...but will I ever see it again?
sbeck3289 March 2006
I had the good fortune of seeing this incredible film in France when it came out. The story is beautiful, and does a great job of explaining the complexity of Schlomo's identity development and growth as a person--figuring out who he has left behind and who he is going to be. The music really had an affect on me as well--it expressed the emotions of the scenes in a way that had me captivated. Though I saw this film over a year ago, the story is still with me and I would love to see it again. I have been waiting patiently to see if a Zone 1 DVD version would follow the release of the Zone 2 in France. I saw that a few of you had seen it at film festivals and such. I know others have asked, but does anyone have an update on whether it will be released in the U.S., and if so, when?
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A meaningful, poignant, inspiring film
natalierosen25 October 2006
I am amazed by the fact that this film did not get more advertising exposure. Perhaps, it is because it surrounds a theme particularly interesting if one is Jewish and even then the plight of the Falasha or black Ethiopian Jews is little known among the general Jewish population. Despite that, there is, I think, much in this film to which everyone can relate. It captured my soul and I was emotionally enmeshed in it. A black Christian Ethiopian young boy in a Sudanese refugee camp, because of the urging of his mother, pretends to be Jewish to get to Israel to escape the horrendous conditions he is in. It surrounds a dire conflict in Sudan which took place in the 1980's and the Israeli Operation Moses rescue which air-lifted those Ethiopian Jews caught in the middle of that struggle and brought them to Israel. It could, however, certainly be the Sudan that exists today, Iraq or anywhere the brutality of warfare occurs and the innocents who are swept up, enveloped, brutalized and killed by it. It centers around concepts of racism and man's inhumanity to man. It is also about love -- especially a mother's love for her child, a stranger's love and a love between two people which transcends race.

For those who are Jewish, I think, it is an especially poignant film as it is about what it means to be a Jew, who is Jewish and how that is determined. It reflects the diversity in Israel itself about those core, ever-present and debatable issues which determine Israeli citizenship. It is about the plight of the Falasha or Ethiopian black Jews in Israel who are refugees and allowed entry into Israel solely based on their being Jewish. Sometimes, the larger Jewish populous who consider themselves white have ambivalent and less-than-welcoming feelings about the Falasha. Clearly, worldwide, being a Jew is more than being religious and this work points that out insightfully and with pathos. I have no criticism of the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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English Title: Live & Become Jewish: Excellent. Two Thumbs up high.
KATO-SUBZERO10 September 2016
Yom Shi Shi, 9 September 2016: I found this movie by accident, but I am so happy that I did. I wish that I had known of it in year 2005.

This film is based on a true story about Ethiopian Jews suffering and dying in Ethiopia, Africa for lack of food and medical help and that eventually Israel saves them. The English title is: "Live and Become" or "Live and Become Jewish", which is about a Christian boy and his Christian mother in Ethiopia. To save her son, when the Israelis arrive to save many Ethiopian Black Jews, the mom tells her son to say that he is Jewish and go live in Israel so that he will not die in Ethiopia.

The young actors, Moshe Abebe and Sirak Sabahat both playing "Solomon" at different ages and pretty Israeli actress, Yael Abecassi in the role of the adoptive mother both deserves an academy award. The entire cast was excellent. Excellent acting, excellent direction and great locations. Also it was great to hear the dialogue in Ivrit and also in Amharic, but I don't know why French is included.

I also love when the young cute Jewish girl, actress, Roni Hadar started to like Solomon in spite of his dark skin. God does NOT see skin color, Elohim, Adonai, El Elyon Only see the heart and mind of people. Real Love overcomes hate, bigotry and prejudice and I think that if I had the chance to meet a pretty White Israeli Jewish woman, love and marriage would Not happen between us because I too am African Black American and I would be looked down upon because of my skin color.

My favorite scenes was when Yael told him that Sarah loves him and she waited 10 years for him he better tell her that he loves her. I thought finally and the beautiful wedding scenes. But even more what I loved is the fact that Sarah loved him in spite of his skin color not born Jewish. True Love conquers all.

But I wish that more White Jews and darker skin Jews (converts included) would open their hearts and minds and allow men and women to love and marry freely without all the racism. For the Jewish women and men in America that have open hearts and minds and loved and married darker skin, I say Toda La El for them.

I also loved the scenes with the Jewish celebrations, music and dancing. The Israel Jewish culture of religious and non religious is very beautiful with the dancing in a large circle and celebrations.

I hope that when it was originally released that it was well received and won some awards.

I wish that it was release in United States. Todah Rabah.

Shalom, Laila Tov ve La heet ra ot.
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A gem by Radu Mihaileanu. Schlomo's story makes us think about intolerance, racism, motherhood, unconditional love and religion
Antonia Tejeda Barros26 June 2016
Va, vis et deviens is a film that touched me deeply. Radu Mihaileanu shows us, once again, his great sensibility and his genius for telling emotional and profound stories while denouncing injustices, racism, hunger and poverty. Schlomo's story makes us think about intolerance, racism, motherhood, unconditional love and religion. This is an essential movie for all of those who feel strangers no matter where they are. Schlomo's story was written by Radu Mihaileanu, but it is based on thousands of personal stories of Ethiopian Jews who emigrated to Israel in 1984 under the so-called "Moses Operation".

Va, vis et deviens won several awards (Berlinale: 3 awards; Copenhagen International Film, and the César award for Best Original Screenplay –Meilleur scénario original–). It was the first film dealing with the immigration of the Ethiopian Jews to Israel. The movie is in Amharic, Hebrew and French.

The best: Radu Mihaileanu's sensibility, the 3 Schlomos (Moshe Agazai, Moshe Abebe and Sirak M. Sabahat), the music (Armand Amar), and the Qes Amhra (Yitzhak Edagr).

The worst: some small over-dramatic moments.
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If Only I Could Be Fortunate Enough To Meet Someone Like Shlomo In Real Life!
Danny G6 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Live and Become is is about never giving up, no matter what! It's an optimistic story. When you do good in your life, good comes back to you when you least expect it.

Parts of this story are incredibly gut-wrenching, I even had to fast forward the movie, at times. Vicariously experiencing the incredible suffering taking place in a refugee camp was unbearable. On the other hand, we get to see a relatively normal Middle Class existence through most of the story, which is quite a relief!

While this is a fictional story the setting is 100% historically accurate. I felt like I was reliving the news from the 1980's! I remember the Falashas, also known as Ethiopian Jews and their evacuation from Ethiopia and the Sudan. I also remember what a hard time they were given by a large segment of the Israeli population, especially by the Ultra Orthodox religious establishment who did not consider them to be real Jews.

The racism and constant humiliation experienced by Schlomo was mind-numbing, and symbolic of how the Falashas were actually treated back then. What a very sad commentary on the Israeli society of the time!

I immensely enjoyed getting to see Schlomo played by 3 different actors: one as 9-year old, then as a teenager and finally as a man in his 20's. We literally get to see Schlomo turn into this incredibly brave and self-confident man. What a moving story! After watching it, I guarantee you it will strengthen your belief in a Supreme Being!
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Touching masterpiece
Armand17 February 2007
"Va, vis, deviens" is not an ordinary film about Judaism or integration in a community.

It is not story of a man between worlds and feelings.

It is only radiography of a strange century, reflection of his errors and image of fragility of a space. A testimony of permanent search of real life's sense. Picture of daily fight with yourself for good definition of reality. Shlomo is not Jew.This is his fundamental sin and source of fear. In same time, Israelian society is, as his past, part of a single coin. He must be Jew against his dreams, hesitations or truth. He must be only Jew, against his painful memories and basic nostalgic image.

So, the film is description of evolution in the skin of social role. Sequences of a vital trip to self-definition. Exploration of a society, vulnerable, fragile and obsessed by the shadow of stranger.

Radu Mihaileanu's film is more that a beautiful story, version of new Cuore or pathetic pledge for empathy. It is a page of life's complexity, part of universal crisis present in the relation between West and East Germans after fall of Wall, between Romanians and Bessarabians after 1990.

In a consistent measure, it is a subtle try to definite the Judaic faith and the Jew statute, the aspects of exile and symbols of reality. In fact, the film is a personal testimony about the role in a chimeric world of everyone. The question of Adam skin color is form of self-definition, form of self-discovery.

An indirect confession of a great film director about his origins, expectation and his long and harsh fight for be yourself.
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