For young American Jews, it’s a long way from ‘Exodus’ to the separation wall.
In 1960, the film “Exodus” was nominated for three Academy Awards. Based on Leon Uris’ novel about the founding of Israel, it seems hard to believe that such a film, drenched in Jewish military heroism and suffused with Holocaust imagery and Arab aggression, could have such broad and unambiguous appeal. But it did. It not only won an Oscar, it also starred a Hollywood icon, Paul Newman, as the heroic Jewish fighter, and even made a commendable showing at Cannes.
But almost a half-century later, a very different film about Israel won an Oscar nomination. “Waltz With Bashir,” (2008) directed by the Israeli Ari Folman, put a spotlight on the massacres at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps during the first Lebanon War.
I recently experienced the Hollywood blockbuster "Spider-Man," and was delighted to see mild-mannered Queens high school student Peter Parker turn himself into a crime-fighting superhero. Jews invented the modern superhero 60 years ago, developing the concept of a well-intentioned but unempowered person transformed through accident into a powerhouse. Their creations (Superman, Spiderman and the like) are descendents of the golem, which was created to protect Jews from pogroms.
Award-winning film ‘The White Ribbon’ may distort picture
of how Nazis rose to power, new scholarship asserts.
Though Michael Haneke’s recently released film “The White Ribbon,” which won the prestigious Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival, focuses on one small German village, in 1914, the director has made it clear that the issues it raises are much larger. “Why do people follow an ideology?” the director asks in the film’s official press release. “German fascism is the best-known example of ideological delusion,” he adds, and while his film is not an explanation of German fascism per se, he certainly encourages viewers to ponder the relationship. In the opening scene, the narrator even says that he hopes the story about to unfold might “clarify things that happened later in our country.”
Roman Polanski's latest feature film is a dramatic account of one man's survival in wartime Warsaw. "The Pianist," which opens Dec. 27, is also a documentary in at least one respect: its star, Adrien Brody, nearly starved himself to portray the Jewish musician and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, shedding some 30 pounds from his already slender frame as filming progressed.
Pity poor Zeno, tormented by his weakness for cigarettes, guilt about his mistress and unresolved tensions with his father. At his psychoanalyst’s suggestion, Zeno writes his memoirs, but the result is the imperfect recollection of an intelligent man blindsided by swirling desires and frozen by inhibitions.
Zeno, the prematurely aged protagonist of Italian Jewish writer Italo Svevo’s comic masterpiece “Confessions of Zeno,” deeply resonated with William Kentridge when he first read the book in college.