Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Propaganda With Kid Gloves


Theodor Herzl and children, in 1900

My latest review for Slant Magazine is of It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl, a biographical documentary about the founding father of Zionism. Having not heard much about Herzl going in, I found Richard Trank's film duly informative as a teaching tool; otherwise, I found it pretty much a snooze formally/aesthetically, and some of its gestures—a sentimental Lee Holdridge score, a lack of interest in addressing the more recent complexities of the Israeli-Palestine conflict—betray a pro-Israel bias that undercuts its pose of academic detachment. Really, you could just read the Wikipedia page about Herzl and pick up most of what Trank and co-writer Rabbi Marvin Hier show us in their film—and I bet you'd probably get a less blinkered view of things.

If you're still interested in the film, it begins a theatrical run at the Quad Cinema in New York Friday and some other theater in Los Angeles starting the Friday after.

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