Saturday, April 2, 2011

Next Year in Jerusalem

Recently I enjoyed watching FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, actually blasted Topel's rendition of if I Were a Rich Man through the Surround Sound, much to my children's complaining, which was responded to by me just turning it up loader!

"If I were a rich man, da, de, da ,de, da...."

What a great story- Set in 1905 Russia, Tevye giving us a tour of his little village Anatevka and its interesting characters, both the Jews living under the shadow of their Traditions, ( keep wanting to break out in song!) and their neighbors living under the rule of the Christian Orthodox church. Both exist under the regional military authority that eventually will expel the Jews from the only home they have known- Tevye has to sell his home and all his possessions and take his wife and last two daughter and join the exodus out of his homeland, Russia expelling all the Jews.

The village match maker, Yente, bids good bye to Tevya's wife, Golde, at her gate with the phrase, "Next year in Jerusalem," a hope the displaced Jewish people have had for a millennium.

EXODUS, my favorite Paul Newman movie, moves this desire forward fifty years, after the horrors of the Holocaust has solidified the desire for a homeland in the hearts of the survivors of the concentration camps.
The movie is no musical, but follows the attempt of the Jewish people to claim the lands of their forefathers for themselves. The World might of declared their right to it, but it was left up to them to claim it.

Paul Newman plays Ari Ben Canaan a Jewish rebel who had fought in World War 2 and now leads a complex plan to get a group of Jewish refugee to the promised land and help establish the first foothold of the new Israeli State.

Eva Marie Saint (North by Northwest) is an American nurse on holiday that gets entwined with the castaways and falling in love with Ari, comes to help establish the colony.

The politics of such a movie are too vast to explain here, nor do I have any delusion I understand them. Certainly the Arabs that occupied and still do occupy Israel deserve their own opinion of this era of history, but I think Exodus does a good job of giving them a voice in the character of Taha, the local mukhtar or leader and lifelong friend of Ari's.

The movie was made in 1960 less then fifteen years from the events that established the State of Israel. Interestingly the film also has the notoriety of helping break the era of the Hollywood Blacklist when Dalton Trumbo, a confirmed Communist and one of the famous Hollywood 10- who refused to testify before the government and reveal others working in Hollywood with ties to the Communist party.

Interestingly- Trumbo is most well known for his anti -war novel JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN...

that I and my daughters read in Middle School- about a maimed and quad amputee soldier who screams out from the shell of a body, trying to communicate with the world.

What is doubly interesting and quite the co -inky-dink is I started writing this in Boulder, Colorado...

 in the Starbucks just north of the University of Colorado campus, while Daughter #1 toured the campus with her father, and low and behold- Trumbo graduated from CU- and, get this grew up in Montrose- Colorado- en route- to Boulder from our corner of the State- how small is the world and interlinked is that- a blacklisted Communist would write such a powerful screenplay about establishing the Jewish State and have written the anti war book most schools have their students read and I remember so vividly and be linked to Colorado- well it is University of Colorado in Boulder- that is known as quite a liberal school- doubt that has changed much in 60 years.

-Relied heavily on Wikipedia's page on the movies and the accompanying links.
-Both movies are available on Netflix

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