It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl (2012) - Rotten Tomatoes

It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl (2012)

It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl

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Narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley and featuring Christoph Waltz as the voice of Theodor Herzl, the film examines how Herzl, a well known journalist and playwright, an assimilated Budapest born Jew, horrified by the Dreyfus trial in Paris and the anti-Semitism he saw spreading across Europe, took upon himself the task of attempting to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine against all odds. Over the span of 8 years, Herzl organized and led a worldwide political movement that within 50 years led to the establishment of the state of Israel. The film follows Herzl as he meets with Kings, Prime Ministers, Ambassadors, a Sultan, a Pope and government ministers from Constantinople to St. Petersburg, from Paris to Berlin, from Vienna to Vilna in his quest to build a Jewish nation. -- (C) Official Sitemore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary
Directed By:
Written By: Richard Trank
In Theaters:
Runtime:
Moriah Films - Official Site

Cast

Ben Kingsley
as Narrator
Christoph Waltz
as Theodor Herzl
Steven Schub
as Steven Schub

News & Interviews for It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl

Critic Reviews for It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (6)

Richard Trank's film is sober, detailed, and handsomely mounted. Ben Kingsley narrates, to excellent effect.

Full Review… | September 6, 2012
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Although director Trank is an Oscar winner for the documentary "The Long Way Home," some of the choices made here are awkward.

Full Review… | August 16, 2012
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

"It Is No Dream" satisfies neither as a movie nor as a history lesson.

Full Review… | August 9, 2012
New York Times
Top Critic

Well-crafted doc offers a scholarly account of the birth of Herzl's Zionist movement.

Full Review… | August 9, 2012
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Helmer Trank deserves kudos for trying to convey this complicated history with primary materials.

Full Review… | August 9, 2012
Variety
Top Critic

The film doesn't exactly sizzle, but it does manage to provide a straightforward (if perspective-challenged) biographical sketch of a major historical figure.

Full Review… | August 7, 2012
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl

IT IS NO DREAM: THE LIFE OF THEODOR HERZL
(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: This documentary of the life of Theodore Herzl
is full of information and at the same time is
disappointingly dry and un-engaging. It is essentially
just a long article, perhaps like an encyclopedia entry,
that tells us the facts about Herzl, the founder of
Zionism. Co-written and directed by Richard Trank, it
gives the viewers the facts but fails to make the
character live and breathe for us. Narrated by Sir Ben
Kingsley and with Christoph Waltz reading Herzl's
writings, it tells us how the anti-Semitism in Europe,
particularly the Dreyfus Affair, inspired Herzl to will
the creation of a Jewish state. And as Herzl said, "If
you will it, it is no dream." Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or
6/10

Who was Theodor Herzl? It is a name we do not hear a lot today.
The story of his life is told in the documentary IT IS NO DREAM.
He was born Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl and was a journalist and
playwright born in Austro-Hungary. His family moved to Vienna
where he studied law. But he could not go far in the legal
profession because of strict limits on Jews in the law profession.
He turned to writing plays with mixed success. Though some of his
plays achieved acclaim his most steady income was as a journalist
for the Neue Freie Presse. But he was horrified when news of the
Dreyfus Affair in France was spread across Europe. On no evidence
a Jewish captain was made a scapegoat in a French political
scandal. He was sentenced to Devil's Island for life. Having
suffered from anti-Jewish bigotry, Herzl was much agitated from the
case and recognized that it was very possible that this hate could
be focused on the Jews of Europe, a prediction that came true. The
solution he decided upon was that Jews must leave Europe and have a
homeland of their own where they would not face anti-Jewish
bigotry. This film tells of his campaign to make the Jewish State
a reality. IT IS NO DREAM tells of Herzl's efforts including how
he met with many of the politically important of his day and of his
frustrations. Not the least of which was that his own wife
remained all her days negative on his concept of restoring a
homeland for the Jews at the site of the Biblical homeland.

Sadly, the filmmakers could not fully perform the difficult trick
of involving the viewer in the humanity of this stiff-seeming man
with an air of formality and a bush of moustache and beard hiding
his facial expression. We hear what he had to say, read by the
distinguished voice of Christoph Waltz, but are not caught up in
it. This film has little passion, even when showing photographs
the victims of pogroms. The approach seems to be more one of
putting the dry information in front of the viewer. Careful
attention was probably paid to what facts would be revealed but
little to how this information would be visualized. If Herzl was
speaking in a particular building the camera shows us the facade of
the building as it is today. Yes, it is something on the screen,
but it hardly does much for the narrative. The visuals needed more
thought and imagination. Perhaps there are some stories that are
better for the viewer to see dramatized than to hear them told.
Ben Kingsley, who is the main narrator, just seems to be
dispassionately reading an article appropriate for an encyclopedia.
As an example for how this sort of thing can be made engaging I can
recommend last year's SHOLEM ALEICHEM: LAUGHING IN THE DARKNESS.

IT IS NO DREAM: THE LIFE OF THEODOR HERZL was directed and co-
written by RICHARD TRANK. It was also co-written by Rabbi Marvin
Hier the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The film is an
important one. The anti-Semitism that inspired and horrified Herzl
is rising again in Europe and elsewhere. We hear surprisingly
little of Theodor Herzl, a man who lived just forty-four years but
whose dream really transformed the Middle East. A biography is
needed, but it needs to be one that would make us understand the
man. It needed to go beyond just telling us who the man was. A
film is needed more vivid is needed. I rate IT IS NO DREAM: THE
LIFE OF THEODOR HERZL a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

Film Credits:


Mark R. Leeper
mleeper@optonline.net
Copyright 2012 Mark R. Leeper

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