Sunday, July 13, 2008

Live And Become

I wandered back to the art house to find something of value after perusing so much-garbage-masquerading-as-cinema, i.e.:our domestic offerings. Sorry, Hulk fan, there's just too many super-hero comic book movies out there. I saw one last week, and that should do it for me for the next twenty years.

Opening with a scene from "Operation Moses", as a 9yr old Christian boy's mother drives him away to 'Live and become' as he is taken in by a Falasha mother who just lost her last child to the famine and disease of the refugee camps.
Secretly, he is passed off as a Jew, renamed Solomon (Schlomo)and told to forget his history, and memorize a whole new (and foreign to him) identity.

Days after arriving in somebody else's 'promised land', he is orphaned again when his new 'mother' dies of disease(TB), which she contracted in the refugee camps. Soon, he is adopted by a left-wing Israeli/French couple with two kids who are not very religious, but assume he is, and enroll him in a Torah school, where the Rabbi soon learns, in a light-hearted film moment, not to call on him for answers.

Soon, Schlomo tackles his studies, get high marks, and masters the French and Hebrew languages. He constantly is pained by his real mother's rejection, and the rejection he faces every day trying to live as a Jew in Jewish land where it seems about half the Jews wont accept him.

Jewish racism is a big part of the story, as he keeps his real identity hidden even from the family that loves him, telling no one, and living in constant fear of repatriation (back to the squalid camps of death).

The film moves along, basically in three parts: The young Schlomo, teen Schlomo, and finally the adult Schlomo who moves to France to become a doctor.
Along the way, he is guided not only by his Jewish family, but also watched over by an Ethiopian Rabbi who helps him write to his mother back in Ethiopia and deal with the challenges of his new world.

As a teen, he falls for a white Jewish girl who chases his affection incessantly while he keeps his love for her to himself, their friendship forbidden by her racist family. The relationship continues long distance through the years.
Eventually, they marry and her family disowns her, and he finally reveals his secret to her.
He joins Doctors Without Borders and heads to the Sudan, and the refugee camps, to help his people, and hopefully find his mother again.

The story ends rather abruptly. Kinda like slamming into a brick wall. It's a shame, for the final scene had so much to offer if only they took the time to develop it.
Brevity, I guess. This film is already nearly two and a half hours long. But the story is rich and deep, the acting sufficient, and the writing is good.
I can see where a story this complex could easily have issues with character development. Gladly, this is not the case. You get to know each character well in the first scene in which they appear. Kudos to the cast,directing, and writing for melding together so well.

There is a bit of a morality play. Who are we? Is our identity a matter of where we were born? Where we live? How we live? Who we love? What our religion is? The answer: all of the above. And is displayed in ever frame of every scene.

An Israeli-French production, filmed in Amharic, French and Hebrew and apparently, largely in Israel. Produced in 2005, I don't why its just now making a showing here. Do not be put off by the subtitles. This an epic story based around rather recent geo-political history. It humanizes the newstories and documentaries we've all witnessed.
And you should see it.

1 comment:

Vanesa Littlecrow W. said...

I need to see this film!