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Live and Become

4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The magnificent, epic story of an Ethiopian boy who is airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses. Shlomo is plagued by two big secrets: He is neither a Jew nor an orphan, just an African boy who survived and wants, so


LIVE AND BECOME **** Starring Yael Abecassis, Roschdy Zem, Moshe Agazai, Mosche Abebe and Sirak M. Sabahat. Directed and written by Ra-du Mihaileanu. Produced by Denis Carol, Marie Masmonteil and Radii Mihaileanu. A Menemsha release. Drama. Aramaic-, Hebrew- and French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 144 min. "Live and Become" received a rare standing ovation at the Telluride Film Festival, evidence of the emotional power of a remarkable journey of discovery. The film centers on the plight of Ethiopian Jews, called Falashas, forced to flee to Sudanese refugee camps for relief from persecution and famine. In 1984, "Oper­ation Moses" begins the airlift of Falashas to Israel. A Christian woman in a refugee camp wants a better life for her nine-year-old son (Moshe Agazai). She orders him to pretend to be Jewish so he can be air­lifted out. After a poignant silent glance with the boy's mother, a Falasha woman whose son has recently died takes the boy's hand as she boards the plane to Israel. She names him Schlomo and pass­es him off as her own son. But in Israel, the adopted mother dies. Agazai gives Schlomo a face full of sadness as he yearns for his mother back in Africa. Schlomo is mystified by life in Israel, which is radically different from anything he had ever known. He is adopt­ed by a liberal Israeli couple, Yael (Yael Abecassis) and Yoram (Roschdy Zem), with two children. Yael becomes a fiery defender of Schlomo against the preju­dices he faces as he begins a new life. Schlomo must create a new identity while facing hostility as a black immigrant and always fearing discovery as a non-Jew. His struggles are extremely affecting. In the distinctive cast, non-professionals seam­lessly mix with accomplished actors while "Live and Become" builds to an unforget­table final image. --Ed Scheid, Box Office Magazine

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Yael Abecassis, Roschdy Zem, Sirak M. Sabahat
  • Directors: Radu Mihaileanu
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French, Hebrew
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Menemsha Films
  • DVD Release Date: April 7, 2009
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0011ZJ5BS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,785 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Live and Become" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"Live and Become" is one family's fictionalized story of the historic exodus of thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the 1980s.

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.
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Format: DVD
This is an epic story, following the life of an Ethiopian boy for about 15 years, from a camp in Sudan to Israel and France. Comparisons to "Forrest Gump" will be made by some as this film turns pages of history and has a lot of heart.

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.
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Format: DVD
This is the story of Schlomo (Solomon), a 9 year old Ethiopian young boy whose Christian mother disguises him as an Ethiopian Jew to take the place of a Jewish boy his age who has just died and whose mother is being airlifted out of a Sudan refugee camp in 1984 as part of a rescue mission operated by the Israeli secret service to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel. His mother's parting words as he very reluctantly leaves are 'go, live and become'. He does go and he does live (his 'new' mother dies shortly after arriving in Israel) and the film is about becoming. He is adopted by a secular Jewish family. Becoming is hard enough growing up under normal circumstances. What if you must keep the secret that you are not Jewish and should never have been admitted to the country, learn to live in family where you don't fit in easily, adapt to a culture that is foreign and unfriendly to blacks and experience all the many adolescent challenges of hormones, loneliness, and a great ache for your homeland and birth mother? How does one cope with all these challenges? The three actors that play the various stages of Schlomo's life do an outstanding job. There are many levels which hit your emotions as you watch this. You want to him to survive and mature but it's so difficult, the odds are not good and you know he most likely would have been dead had he stayed in Sudan. Somehow he must persevere and overcome and 'become'. A heart-breaking and uplifting story of the human spirit and the will to live and become. Lu G. for Lu's Reviews.
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