Celebrate Israel’s 70th With Movies

Celebrate Israel’s 70th With Movies

These films feature history from the independence period, plus such stars as Newman, Douglas and Bergman.

One way to celebrate Israel’s birthday is to see how the rebirth of the Jewish nation has been portrayed on film. Some of the top options:

  • “Exodus” (1960) — Otto Preminger’s 3½-hour epic about the postwar smuggling of refugees into Israel and the fight for independence won an Oscar for Ernest Gold’s score and features a great scene in which a British soldier laughs at the idea that the character played by Jewish star Paul Newman could be Jewish.

  • “Cast a Giant Shadow” (1966) — Kirk Douglas stars as American Army officer Mickey Marcus, who finds love but tragically never learns Hebrew while organizing the young Israel Defense Forces into a military that can defend and supply a foothold in Jerusalem.

  • “Above and Beyond” (2014) — The best documentary about Israel’s War of Independence, the opening film from the 2015 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival focuses on how individual Americans helped launch Israel’s initial air force.

  • “Sword in the Desert” (1949) — Filmed while Israel’s survival in the war was still in doubt, this is the story of a freighter captain (Dana Andrews) who smuggles in Jewish refugees, then is drawn into the struggle. Jewish actor Jeff Chandler gets to play a rare Jewish role.

  • “Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer” (1955) — The story of four people trying to hold a hill outside Jerusalem on the eve of a U.N. cease-fire represents the birth of Israel’s film industry.

  • “A Woman Called Golda” (1982) — Ingrid Bergman won an Emmy for playing Golda Meir in this TV biopic, which provides a glimpse at Israel’s pioneer days and the political side of the independence fight.

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