1960, Movie, NR, 212 mins


A stirring chronicle of Israel's struggle for independence in 1947, EXODUS focuses on Newman as Ben Canaan, the leader of the Haganah, whose affair with Kitty Fremont (Saint) is engulfed by the conflict. The film tackles the independence movement as a whole, dealing with various factions involved in the internecine struggle between the moderate Haganah and the radical terrorist Irgun. Interspersed throughout are segments showing the migration of European Jews to the new land, paying special attention to the ragged survivors of Nazi death camps on board the vessel Exodus, blockaded in a Cyprus harbor by British warships. The film also depicts the struggle of the Jews in Palestine to gain partition, then profiles the main characters after the partition, fighting to continue as the nation of Israel.

Under the direction of Otto Preminger, EXODUS boasts strong performances and many memorable sequences including the bombing of the King David Hotel, the capture and subsequent rescue of the Irgun leaders, masterfully handled crowd scenes, and Canaan's moving final speech. Preminger is generally faithful to history and to Leon Uris's best-selling novel; Uris himself was dismissed as the film's screenwriter (Preminger thought he had no gift for screen dialogue), and the filmmakers were necessarily forced to abridge the story to make it cinematically feasible. Though the film is overlong, the story is movingly told, the production values are high, and Ernest Gold's Oscar-nominated score is considered a classic. leave a comment

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