O Jerusalem, a film by Elie Chouraqui

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O Jerusalem is a film that tries to give an account of the struggle that besieged the birth of Israel. In the middle of the turmoil are two American friends on Arab one Jew. It all begins when both friends end up going to Jerusalem to find peace in the fight between Jews and Arabs. Their friendship is soon affected and pushed to its limits as both begin to loose their ideals of peace and instead begin to focus on the sides they have chosen.

Elie Chouraqui’s O Jerusalem is a film that attempts to capture the struggle that took place in 1940s Jerusalem, and in some ways he succeeds in doing so. Instead of getting only a specific point of view across Chouraqui is able to show what the Arabs, Jews, and British thought of the situation and how they were affected by it. The storyline doesn’t try to make one side better or worst than the other but rather tries to show both sides without reservations. There are no real bad or good guys in this film, instead there are just people who are trying to survive and save their home. Chouraqui centers the film around two friends who essentially become rivals, and it is trough them that the audience can see how both the Arabs and Jews have valid points for wanting to maintain Jerusalem. Besides the directing and the storyline’ what also works in this film is the cast of actors.

J.J. Fields plays Bobby Goldman, one of the two central characters. Here he plays an idealist, who wants to find peace in the struggle but soon finds himself fighting his friend. Fields is convincing in this role for the most part. He is able to show range from someone who begins with so much hope for peace and slowly starts to become disillusioned as he sees the face of war. Said Taghmaoui’s performance as Said Chahine is too a stand out. He is the second central character in the film; he like Goldman is an idealist who too becomes disillusioned after finding his brother has been killed. Taghmaoui creates a character that resonates with the audience. He creates a character that is slowly brought to his knees after loosing his brother in a blast and later loosing his uncle at the hand of his friend. Ian Holm is also a standout even if his screen time is minimal. He plays Ben Gurion (who would later become the first prime minister of Israel), who is very passionate about creating this new state for Jews to call their very own. Holm is able to show just how much this meant to Gurion and how in the end he was able to get his Zion. The rest of the supporting cast work well too but there are really no standouts.

The film is good but it does have some visible flaws. The first thing that doesn’t work in this film is the special effects. Though it doesn’t have many the few that it does have are poorly done. The other thing that doesn’t work in the film is the over dramatization of some of the scenes. One example of this would be towards the end when Goldman’s character wants to get married to his love interest in the story, though that part of the story is tragic Field isn’t very convincing as someone who is overwhelmed or sad because of what happened. At times that scene as well as a couple of others scenes seem over acted.

Overall the good over weights the flaws in the film. It lets the audience see war and what it does to everyone in them. From the directing to the acting everything for the most part is well done and works well together. It tries to give to the audience a small piece of history and succeeds in doing so. Everything in this film is not great but it is a good film that is worth seeing.

* * *
Weak: 1 Star   Average: 2 Stars   Good: 3 Stars   Very Good: 4 Stars   Excellent: 5 Stars

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