PFS Film Review
O Jerusalem


O JerusalemNearly a docudrama, O Jerusalem begins at New York in 1946, when Said Chahine (played by Said Taghmaoui) and his Jewish friend Bobby Goldman (played by JJ Feild) are happily enjoying each other’s company. When the British mandate appears to be at an end, shortly after Jewish terrorists have bombed the British headquarters in Jerusalem, they go to Palestine in anticipation of a return of sovereignty. Clearly, the British are eager to leave when they arrive. But the UN vote to recognize Israel as a state in 1948 serves to mobilize a coalition of Arab-speaking states to push Israel into the sea. Jewish heroism and a UN-requested ceasefire, honored by the Jordanians and others, gives sufficient respite to the beleaguered Jews so that they rebound after seven days and establish sovereignty over a sliver of territory along the Mediterranean while both sides try to keep Jerusalem out of the war. The film is largely a propagandistic effort to inform Jews and Palestinians that at one time they were friends at a personal level, and for the sake of Jerusalem (translation: City of Peace) they should observe mutual respect within separate sovereign states. At the same time, perspicacious filmviewers may connect a voiceover at the end about the resulting 750,000 Palestinians refugees with the seeds of fifty more years of conflict. Although the Political Film Society, accordingly, has nominated O Jerusalem as the best film of 2007 to celebrate the cause of peace, the film may provide an analogy to present-day Iraq for some filmviewers. The similarities and differences may provoke some thought for those who are attentive to historical lessons, though the movie’s director, Elie Chouraqui, evidently has no such ambition, having based the script on the best-selling 1972 novel by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. MH

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