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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl
Directed by Richard Trank
Moriah Films 08/12 Documentary
Not Rated

Theodor Herzl (1880 - 1904) was a playwright and newspaper reporter who lived in Europe during a period when intense anti-Semitism took hold and caused great suffering for Jews. Born in Budapest and raised in Vienna, he studied law but was taken by the importance of journalism.

Herzl covered the famous Dreyfus trial and was convinced that this officer received a life sentence for treason because he was Jewish. Wherever he looked Herzl saw more hatred and persecution of his people who were blamed for everything.

After much thought and empathy, Herzl came up with the idea of finding a homeland for Europe's Jews where they could feel safe, free, and able to practice their religion without outside interference. Whereas many poor Jews accepted his vision of a Jewish state, the rich and the powerful throughout Europe were not so sure. To convince them, Herzl spent years traveling from one country to another trying to raise money for his modern Zionist movement. In pursuit of his dream, this visionary wore himself down and died at the early age of 44 in a sanitarium.

It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodore Herzl is a straight-forward documentary with plenty of information about this man who devoted the best years of his life to finding an answer to the problems and persecution facing Jews. Richard Trank is the director, Sir Ben Kingsley serves as narrator, and Christoph Waltz reads selections from Herzl's passionate writings. Meant to be an inspiring documentary, it ends with a quotation by Herzl about the positive example Israel can set for the world. We'd like to see it come true but it hasn't.

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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