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James' Journey to Jerusalem

Gregory Tal , Salim Daw , Ra'anan Alexandrowicz  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gregory Tal, Salim Daw, Arie Elias, Hugh Masebenza, Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe
  • Directors: Ra'anan Alexandrowicz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English, Hebrew
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 2004
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002RQ2VW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,642 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A cannily droll mix of social commentary and modern fairy tale, Israeli filmmaker Ra'anan Alexandrowicz's debut feature follows the adventures of James, a devout Christian making a pilgrimage from his African village to the Holy Land. He becomes part of the migrant labor workforce in Tel Aviv and pursues his religious quest--until he gets a little taste of fortune by turning the tables on his employers. With a moving and charismatic performance by South African actor Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe, JAMES' JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM is an astute exploration of the economic, moral and spiritual hypocrisies of Western society filtered through an evocative portrait of modern Israel's cultural and generational divisions.

DVD Special Features
- U.S. theatrical trailer
- Original music video for "Jerusalem" performed by Marry Kusi and Kate Asner
- Optional English subtitles
- Statement by director Ra'anan Alexandrowicz

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars moving but controversial film March 1, 2005

In the allegorical "James' Journey to Jerusalem," a deeply religious young man, filled with idealism and hope, leaves his village in Africa to embark on a pilgrimage to the Holy City. There he hopes to glean some spiritual inspiration before returning home to start life as a pastor. However, things do not quite work out for James the way he envisions them. Immediately upon his arrival in Israel and before he can even make it to the famed city, he is unjustly thrown into jail, then "sold" into a kind of paid slavery to the business man who ponies up his bail. James is forced to live in a kind of community barracks with other young men in his situation and is sent around town to do cleaning, gardening and an assortment of other odd jobs. As James toils at his labors and interacts with both his "superiors" and peers, he learns a great deal about life in a land where the weak are taken advantage of by the strong and where friendly words and acts of seeming kindness are doled out with an air of class-conscious racism and condescension.

This is a fascinating film in many ways, for it introduces us to a milieu filled with unfamiliar situations and faces. James is, obviously, a sincere and devout individual whose innocence and naivete endear us to him, even when it is those very qualities that make it difficult for him to exist and function in a world far more crassly commercial and uncaringly cynical than the one he expects to find. Yet, at the same time, James has a strength of spirit and a resourcefulness that allow him to triumph, even if only temporarily, over the adversities that befall him.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming with a social message February 20, 2005
James is an inspired young man sent by his village on a pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem. His character is developed at length with his respect and affection for the people he meets in Israel. Except for an eccentric older man (played by Eli Wallach) the Israeli figures are not well developed except to show their suspicion of "guest workers" who may want to stay in the country with welfare programs or take jobs away from natives. Many of the jobs available are due to the restriction of enty by Palestinian Arab workers from Gaza and the west bank. Ironically, the replacement workers from Europe, Africa and elsewhere have suffered themselves at the hands of the intifada. Watchers should know that the movie is cosponsored by the New Israel Fund that has a primary mission of justice for workers and Arab citizens. It is allied with the former Labor socialist party, but has taken new directions. Even knowing the political slant of the messages, there are many enjoyable scenes of James and how he adapts to the realities without losing his sense of mission and pride.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Rarity! January 25, 2005
By Wundah
I absolutely enjoyed this film. It is the story of a young African man and his journey to Jerusalem from his small village. During his travels he learns much about himself through the many "tests" he believes he has been given by his God. What I enjoyed most about this story is that movies are not typically or hardly made about the African men and women that travel far from their homes to the Middle East and Europe with hopes of more prosperous lives yet ending up at the bottom rungs of these societies and virtually ignored. Although this story is about James' journey to test his faith, it also gives a glimpse of what life is like for thousands of young men like him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense, funny, crazy - story of modern Israel March 11, 2011
Filmaking is alive and well in modern Israel. This is a lively, chaotic and totally charming story of the rough and seedy side of Tel Aviv, where illegal immigrants are exploited for their labor by Shimi, a tough capitalist with a heart of gold. There are many pungent personalities, family conflicts, and a moral challenge to the protagonist, who learns to sell out his spiritual quest for a quick buck - at least for a while. A very Israeli take on itself, where everyone is always striving to capture some small advantage however they can. The acting is uniformly superb. Very funny and teaches more about contemporary Israel than fifty books about the Palestine conflict.

Highly recommended.
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With a soundtrack featuring music by Ehud Banai, Gil Smetana, and Noam Halevi, Mr. Alexandrowicz, who is known for his documentary, THE INNER TOUR, has recruited Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe and Hugh Masebenza from South Africa, to tell a witty story of NOT BEING A FRIAR/FRYER in Israel; the worst of fates.

A generation ago, a film based on Ephraim Kishon's SALLAH character, told the story of a Mizrahi Jewish immigrant to Israel who took the worst jobs and poked fun at Israeli society and the JNF. It is now the turn of these guest workers to do the same thing. And in this story, Sallah is now an old, fully absorbed, retired man, who can now take advantage of the people on the lowest immigration rung.

In this story, JAMES arrives at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel.. He is making pilgrimage to the Holy Land for his fictional township, Entshongweniin, in Africa, where he will become a spiritual leader upon his return. They think of Israel as the biblical place. He is immediately arrested as a presumed illegal worker (Actually, when one of the actor sarrived from South Africa to perform in the film, he was arrested and held at the Ben Gurion airport, assumed to be not a tourist but an illegal worker. He had to be bailed out.)

In the film, he prays for deliverance and gets miraculously bailed out; and his adventures as a indebted segregated worker and cleaner begin. Will he ever make it to Jerusalem? Or will he stay on the coastal plain to make more $$? Will his pastor take advantage of him? Or will he take advantage of others? Will his dashiki win out over a nice polo shirt and khakis? Will Shimi's father, Sallah, sell out to real estate interests?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
I've seen this movie years ago twice and decided to buy a copy for my movie library. This is an enjoyable and sometimes funny (if you have a sense of humor) movie. Read more
Published 9 months ago by nsoroma
5.0 out of 5 stars As far as movies go....
This was excellent!!
It's a great story that in an almost allegorical way shows us how easy it is to lose our way in this world... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Max Y Galaguz
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming & engaging
There are many of us who believe we are put on this earth to learn and to progress - this is a story of a young pastor sent on a pilgrimage who encounters some unexpected twists in... Read more
Published on September 21, 2011 by Jenn
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful
i really enjoyed this movie. it is allegorical and deals with the problems in serving both god and money. it is brilliant and beautiful and well made and well thought-out. Read more
Published on October 5, 2010 by jeg
3.0 out of 5 stars Should have been better
The Israelis portrayed in the film are all crass, greedy, selfish, dishonest, exploitative, overweight slobs. Read more
Published on December 24, 2005 by Edward Offstein
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Life in Israel
I found this to be an excellent movie depicting how things really are for a section of the Israeli population. Read more
Published on September 28, 2005 by Carol A. Glazer
3.0 out of 5 stars James is no frayer...
Good story of innocence, corruption, and capitalist economies. Satirical black comedy w/an unexpected frayer in the end.
Published on September 6, 2005 by Erikka
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