Live and Become
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Today, Ethiopian Jews aren't quite as surprising a group as they were when they first emerged on the world stage. This year, the story of world-class peace activist Ephraim Isaac showed up as one of the honorees in "Interfaith Heroes 2."
As a journalist in the 1980s, I visited Ethiopian Jewish communities in Israel and experienced first-hand the bittersweet nature of their exodus from life-threatening conditions in Ethiopia to this new homeland. While Israelis, overall, worked hard to make them feel welcome -- they also experienced bigotry, suspicion and the bewilderment of cultural displacement.
In Radu Mihaileanu's movie, "Live and Become," he heightens the passionate connection with Ethiopia. He introduces his main character, Schlomo, as a 9-year-old boy who two Ethiopian mothers nearing their own deaths decide to "save" by declaring him a Jewish child.
When Schlomo arrives in Israel, he must deal with an intense homesickness, bigotry from a few white Jewish neighbors and a guilty secret about his non-Jewish identity that he fears may lead to his imprisonment. That's a whole lot for a 9-year-old boy to shoulder and it's understandable that, most of the time, Schlomo walks through his new life with his handsome face bowed.
But Schlomo is strong, extremely smart, talented at languages -- and in his heart he carries an almost instinctively Jewish love of God and the world. He pours his life into Torah study. He strives to become even better than those few students who want to humiliate him.Read more ›
When Israelis come to Sudan to rescue Ethiopian Jews as part of "Operation Moses" (1984), Salomon's mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian urges him to go to Israel and pass as a Jew, so he won't die in the camp. Salomon is only 9 at the time and obeys his mother, leaves for Israel with an Ethiopian Jew woman who lost her son in the camp, and becomes known as "Schlomo". Once in Israel, Schlomo's new mother dies and after a rough time, the boy is placed for adoption and ends up in a liberal French-Israeli family. The third mother is thus "white" but loves him immensely. (The film does go into a sweet and interesting discussion of races). This all happens in the first minutes of this beautifully-filmed story which I will not spoil for you.
"Live and Become" explores finding one's identity, dealing with adversity, understanding cultural differences, searching for true friends (and don't we all need good friends?) and striving for excellence. There is humor too in this drama, like the scene when Schlomo decides to turn himself in at the police station.
The acting by the three boys that play Schlomo at different ages is very good. I found writer/director Radu Mihaileanu amazing, what a love story!
A few warnings: at 2 hours and 15 minutes this film might seem slow to some, but I believe it needs all that time to tell the story, and it picks up speed at the end. The film is not yet rated in the USA but because of mature themes, some language (including couple F-words in subtitles) and a particular scene I would not show it to children younger than 12.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best movies. I've watched it at least 6 times; unlike some people, I thought that the film moved at a good pace and I never felt as if it were dragging.Published 1 month ago by mpeers
This film is trash. I stopped watching after the "debate" on Adam's color. Is the director out of his mind? Read morePublished 8 months ago by Noam Eitan
Sent this wonderful film as a gift that was very much appreciated.Published 15 months ago by Stanley M. Friedman
They are still dealing with so many things, even in Israel. It's good to become aware.Published 16 months ago by ann
I have seen this move a number of time and have enjoyed viewing this every time - After purchasing the DVD from Amazon I gathered some friends from our book group and we viewed... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Heather Maureen Gardner
Have a box of tissues near by when you watch this one. It's a classic. I'm not sure the sequence of events happened the way it is portrayed but it is a good combination of the... Read morePublished on May 13, 2014 by Jeannie Marcus