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  • 1. This is a movie, folks. Yes, based on a novel, but it was just that - a novel. Uris didn't claim to be writing a history textbook. As with all memorable literature, he tweaked some facts and embroidered his landscape with memorable fictional characters (although yes, many were based on real-life people.) So it's not appropriate to criticize either the novel or the book for not getting every historical fact absolutely right.

    2. This is a MOVIE, folks. Based on a novel, but it's still a movie. Which meant that the actors were cast for a variety of reasons, one of which was solid bank-ability at the box office. To those who complained that Eva Marie Saint is too old in this film, I'd like to remind them that she was only a few months older (in real life) than Paul Newman was. And having her a bit older than the character in the novel is fine, since she brings a different life perspective than someone in her 20s would have. Especially since she was playing a widow. just mho.

    3. What has depressed me is that this IMDb discussion of a movie has brought out the Haters. I don't mean people who hated the movie; I mean people who hate Jews and the State of Israel. Apparently, no amount of art, or even actual history, will ever be enough for some people to stop hating, to get them to stop looking for every possible opportunity to malign any group of people they get something -- however perverse or destructive -- out of hating.

    4. My personal opinion of this movie is that it's an excellent MOVIE. It entertains. It teaches us a few basic facts about the creation of Israel that most of us never learned in school. It is well-cast, well-acted, well-directed, and well-photographed. In addition, it has a great score throughout the film (not just the very memorable main theme.) I saw it at a movie theater when I was fairly young, and I've probably seen it on TV over a dozen times since then. I also read the novel (a long time ago), but if I've learned anything over the years, it's that movies and novels are different animals that can't fairly be compared page-for-page, so to speak. Heck - ever read "Gone With The Wind?" In the novel, Scarlett has one child with each of her husbands, but in the movie, she only has the one child, with Rhett. But no one complains about it because it's a damn good movie. And so is "Exodus." It's damn good movie.
  • Adapted from one of the best books of the last century, Otto Premenger's "Exodus" (1960) had all the components of an exiting, deeply moving masterpiece. It was made by a very talented and celebrated director ("Laura" , "Anatomy of a Murder"); most scenes of the film were made in locations where the original events had occurred; one of the best ever American actors(Paul Newman) played the main character, Jewish hero, a fearless Freedom fighter, Ari Ben Canaan; Sal Meneo gave an absolutely compelling performance as Dov Landau, a young man, a boy really who had survived the horrors of Auschwitz, the only survivor of a big family from Warsaw. Ernst Gold won an Academy award for his truly magnificent musical score. Sadly, "Exodus" is not a masterpiece – it is an overlong, heavy handed, and rather unimpressive movie that caused satirist Mort Sahl to say, "Otto, let my people go" as he watched the film's 220-minute preview. Ironically, with all this running time, the best, the most inspirational parts of the book did not make it to the film. Among them are historical events dealing with the origins of ghetto system, pogroms in Russia, the long and fascinating journey of two brothers from a small Russian town to Palestine by foot, the ideas of Theodor Herzl, the birth of kibbutzes in Palestine, and enormous labor of kibbutznicks to make the land fertile, to grow plants and trees where the desert, rocks, and swamps had been, as well as the tragedy of European Holocaust and dramatic story of United Nations voting for partition of Palestine in 1947 and the war of the infant state against its multiple and hostile neighbors for the right to exist and be an independent country. I watched the movie just before I left for my trip to Israel a few weeks ago and I took the book with me there. Reading the book while be able to see the places it describes with such passion and love, to see the land that is called "promised land" or "Holy land" WAS one of the most emotional and unforgettable experiences in my life, watching the movie was not. It is just an illustration to the fantastic book – no more, no less. IMO, the book deserves the same treatment that Puso's "Godfather" had received – it should've been adapted into several movies, not just one. Like in Godfather, Part II, the scenes of the past and present should've alternated, given the viewers deeper insight in the events and the passions and politics behind them. Or even better, perhaps "Exodus" should've been adapted into TV mini-series format where every important character would've had enough time for his/her story.
  • I know it's not the most talked about movie, but put it on your list- it should be in the top. This is a film that will certainly bring some sort of emotion to you- passion, hate, love, anger... While following the lives of a couple of post-Holocaust Jews, it manages to show every step of the way to the creation of the State of Israel.

    The film goes from Cyprus to a boat to Israel, all while remembering historical events during the Holocaust, Israel, and much more. Unlike many modern films that are decisively pro or anti-Israel (sometimes to the extreme), this one displays its message eloquently but clearly, although it leaves some room for you to decide how to perceive it. Yet it can also be watched as a love story or a survival epic. It shows reason for the wrong and the right and has the ability to change your opinion. Ultimately, the movie leaves you thinking about all it has to say and what its characters had to say.

    It has great cinematic quality too. Paul Newman and Lee J. Cobb are great as their parts, portraying real people in real situations. The cinematography is excellent, too, with shots that bring the emotion to you and put you in the mindset of each character. The epic score tops it all off- it is the key to this movie's wonder. It keeps everything flowing and depending on its variation can match the emotion of any scene. Finally, Otto Preminger's direction tops it off. The drama is raw and truthful, while on a grand scale that few other movies have been able to capture.
  • Seeing "Exodus" early in the 21st century, one is robbed of the experience that moviegoers of the early 1960s would have had; it's impossible to see a movie about the birth of Israel now without the perspective of the Six-Day War of 1967, which changed the perception many non-Jews had of Israel. That, and the events that the Six-Day War led to, have eroded the moral assurance that many of the main characters of "Exodus" espouse about Israel and its founding, and would eventually lead to the moral quagmire found 45 years later in Steven Spielberg's "Munich." Today, "Munich" is much closer to the grayness of who is right or wrong in the modern-day Middle East than the black-and-white assumptions that drive the characters of "Exodus" in 1947 -- or its creators in 1960.

    And it's likewise much harder to accept Paul Newman in the role of a Jewish freedom fighter; though he was already a big star in 1960 (which was no doubt the reason that he was chosen for the part), one cannot evaluate his performance here without recalling all the other high points of his career that were still ahead of him -- "The Hustler," "Cool Hand Luke," "Hombre," and of course his two big triumphs with Robert Redford, as Butch and Sundance and in "The Sting" -- not to mention a career that kept humming even into the 1990s. He's hardly remembered for this role at all today, and though even he isn't in every scene in a sweeping epic like this, it's hard to look at the movie without remembering all that would come later.

    What stands out today more than Newman's performance, therefore, are the many secondary characters -- Sal Mineo as the tortured survivor of Auschwitz with secrets that lead him to the Irgun (and a performance that would earn him his second and last Oscar nomination); David Opatoshu as a Menachem Begin-like figure who believes violence is better than negotiation; and Jill Haworth, all of 15 at the time, and who would have a bevy of ingénue roles into the 1960s, but whose career would dribble out by the end of the next decade.

    In particular, this was a great role for Opatoshu, who is probably best remembered today for his many guest shots on television (like Newman, most that came after this, in everything from "Twilight Zone" and "Mission:Impossible" to "Star Trek" and "Hawaii Five-O"). Though he is recognizable for those roles, it's worth remembering that he came out of Yiddish Theater and was a controlled, subtle performer who rarely got the kind of meaty role that he had here -- and one that no doubt was important to him.

    So, while it's mainly remembered today for Ernest Gold's stirring theme music, "Exodus" is interesting as a window into a different time and a different way of thinking -- both about its subject matter and its main character . . . and the once and future star who played him.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Exodus" centers on the successful escape, masterminded by the Palestinian underground leader, Ari Ben Canaan, of over 600 Jewish refugees from Cyprus to Palestine; the underground activities in Palestine; and the first Israeli-Arab conflicts following partition…

    Surrounding these and other events are many personal dramas, including Ari's romance with American nurse Kitty Fremont (Eva Marie Saint) and his friendship with a sympathetic Arab chieftain Taha (John Derek). It's a stirring and visually beautiful film, but it contains one of Newman's least exciting performances…

    Some contend that Newman's motivational Method conflicted with Preminger's authoritarian approach; others that he was miscast… But Ari is the kind of dedicated, single-minded loner Newman is expert at—except, of course, that the dedication is to a cause, not to himself…

    When Newman insults the well-meaning Cypriot, Mandria (Hugh Griffith), his friends tell severely that his action is wrong, affirming that Mandria is a real friend… He replies: "When the showdown comes, we will always stand alone. Mandria will sell us out like all the others. We have no friends, except ourselves." Those lines are also in the novel, but they could almost have been written expressly for Newman, whose self-sufficient characters often speak in this manner…

    The real problem is that Newman never gives Ari warmth or humanity… His initial impatience, hostility, arrogance and indifference to individual problems are understandable, since he is planning crucial events… But even when he is supposed to be getting warmer, more understanding, aware that outsiders can be trusted (Kitty, a Christian, becomes deeply committed to the cause), his behavior remains almost exactly the same…

    He never comes to life until the last scene, a passionate funeral oration, and by then it's too late… There's none of the charm or vitality that makes us interested in even the most vicious of Newman's antiheroes… In the one instance where Newman is supposed to be funny—his impersonation of a British officer—he is forced and uneasy…
  • Growing up in Brooklyn in the Fifties and Sixties, I can tell you that every Jewish household seem to have a copy of Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar and Leon Uris's Exodus. The characters in Exodus among the people I grew up with became as known as family members. So when Otto Preminger made the film, he had a built in audience, almost in the same way that every Star Trek movie has.

    But we're not talking about a mythical future. The novel is about Israel's founding, but the issues still remain and Exodus should be required viewing for all who wonder about the need for a Jewish state. Wouldn't hurt to read the book either.

    Exodus got only one Oscar, but there was really no competition there. Ernest Gold's musical score is one of the great ones done for the cinema. I remember how much it was played back when I was a lad. It's a vigorous and uplifting melody and like so many other good film scores it carries the viewer along in what is a lengthy movie.

    Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint are capable enough leads, but it is the supporting characters that really make this film. Two of my favorites are David Opatoshu as Akiva Ben Canaan, an Irgun leader and Gregory Ratoff as Lazavitch who was the rabble rouser on the ship Exodus. You will remember both of these people after viewing Exodus. Why the Academy overlooked either of them for nominations is beyond me. But that was a year rich in supporting performances.

    Making this film must have been the highlight of the career of David Opatoshu. He was a leading actor in the Yiddish Theater and to be in this film must have been a dream come true. Seeing him in various roles, Opatoshu never gave a bad performance in his career.

    Sal Mineo as Dov Landau was nominated for Best Supporting Actor,the young concentration camp survivor who joins the Irgun. Sal had some stiff competition that year. Other nominees were Chill Wills for The Alamo, Jack Kruschen for The Apartment, and Peter Falk for Murder, Inc. Groucho Marx made a public declaration that his vote was for Sal Mineo after an appalling campaign appeal was started for Chill Wills. But the winner was Peter Ustinov for Spartacus.

    According to a new biography of Sal Mineo, he was very jealous of Ustinov's victory and would curse him out if his name was even casually brought up in conversation.

    I'm convinced that Leon Uris in writing Exodus was influenced by the Diary of Anne Frank in creating the character of Karen played in the film by Jill Haworth. Funny also that the film version of the play came out the year before Exodus. It was as if Anne Frank had survived the camps and had come to the birthing of Israel. She's an innocent child who still retains her faith in people like Anne Frank did, making what happens to her all the more tragic. If you've read the book before seeing the film, Haworth's performance was all the more poignant.

    Unfortunately Exodus is not history because the war is still being fought by the Jewish people against those who would wish and do evil upon them. Would that it were just history.
  • Early in the film, while discussing the squabbling between Jews and Arabs over Palestine, an exasperated Eva Marie Saint sighs and asks "How is it all going to end?" How indeed! It is a question the world has asked for more than half a century, and to date there is no answer in sight.

    Concerning the creation of the Jewish state of Israel, the 1958 Leon Uris novel EXODUS was among the great bestsellers of its era and remains widely read to this day. The 1960 film version was also widely admired at the time of its release--but it is seldom seen today. There is a reason for that. In spite of its reputation, the film is remarkably slapdash. The cinematography is poor, lacking arresting visuals and often so sloppy that the shadows of the boom mikes are visible here, there, and everywhere throughout the film. The sound mix is also quite poor, with post-production effects as much off the mark as they are on. But the great flaws here are the script and the cast.

    Written for the screen by Dalton Trumbo, the script has a very artificial and very talky quality. This might be overlooked if Trumbo actually had anything to say in the process--but he does not, and a remarkably gifted cast struggles vainly against one artificial line after another. Paul Newman is horrifically miscast; Eva Marie Saint, Ralph Richardson, and Lee J. Cobb fare a bit better, but Jill Haworth is chiefly memorable for giving the single worst performance in the film. As for Sal Mineo's much lauded performance, today it seems extremely theatrical.

    Even so, EXODUS would remain passable were it not for the incredibly naive brand of Zionism the film adopts. More than fifty years later after endless wars, waves of terrorism, and failed peace talks we all know that it was NEVER as simple as this movie would have us believe. When all is said and done, the most memorable thing about EXODUS is the Academy Award-winning score by Ernest Gold, which really is as good as every one says it is.

    The film is presently available to the homemarket as a no-frills DVD. Final thought: it has moments of interest and on rare occasions even brilliance, but those moments are few and far between. Best left to those who remember it fondly from its 1960 debut.

    Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
  • The film version of Leon Uris' Exodus was intentionally scripted for an American audience unfamiliar with Holocaust and Jewish themes. In fact, the film harps on major character Kitty's discomfort just being around Jews. Exodus is a 1960's Hollywood version of the creation of the modern State of Israel "for dummies", and in this it succeeds. While not having any religious Jewish content whatsoever, the film discuss themes of Jewish identity after the Holocaust, the plight of Jewish refugees under the British, the internal struggle of the Haganah versus the militant Irgun, and major historical incidents in the War for Independence 1948. While inaccurate about the actual Exodus ship incident, the film was a milestone in American Jewish cinema and identity. To this day, the film's music remains a mainstay in Jewish American homes.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've heard that author Leon Uris was disappointed in the conversion to the screen of his marvelous novel. However, given the time frame allowed for a movie, I believe it is totally faithful to the SPIRIT of the novel and actually follows key events as written (the stand-off in Famagusta aboard the Exodus between the Palestinian Jews and the British; the escape from Acre prision). This movie educated me as a pre-teen about the plight of the post-war Jews and turned a non-Jew into a real Zionist. I saw this movie several times when it was in the theatres in the '60s and now own it on video. Its relevance has stood the test.
  • This historical film is based on real events and Leon Uris'novel.By the late 1945, millions of bewildered and homeless Jews people were on the move-across Europe and the Far East. They were looking for somewhere to live and for many of them that meant a new country. Jews demanded a land of their own. Jewish refugees were at a British camp on their way to Palestine. The Jews on board hoped to sail to Palestine in the first 'exodus ship'. Jewish refugees struggle ashore from island of Cyprus. But the ship (led by Jewish leader Paul Newman, helped by an American widow Eva Marie Saint) will be intercepted. On many of the refugees, by a famine-strike, the conditions were appalling, overcrowded, lacking food and water.The British troops(commanded by Ralph Richardson and Peter Lawford) guard the shipload of Jews in the port, they were rounded up, to be sent to the camp.This is an exodus that succeeded. In Palestine coming so soon after the holocaust, the homeless come home, but these traumatic echoes of Auschwitz and Buchenwald inflamed Zionist feelings. 1946,1947 and early 1948 were a years in which Zionist terrorist was at its height and Independent Israel still seemed heartbreaks away. In 22 July 1946, ninety-one people died when the King David Hotel in Jerusalem was blown up by Zionists. When one of the ringleader(David Opatoshu) of the Zionist anarchist group is placed under arrest, to be taken under close guard to the camp , the movement plans the breakout. The posterior setting is the strife-ridden area of Palestine between Jewish and Arabs fighting cruelly each other.The state of Israel was born in war and spent its youth struggling for survival.The nearly established United Nations did what it could to help, establishing camps for refugees and the supervision of Great Britain over Palestine. And later a voting that declared the independence of Israel under Ben Gurion( similar role played by Lee J Cobb).

    This historic film written by Dalton Trumbo is efficiently directed by Otto Preminger. Good performances from Paul Newman as obstinate Israeli leader, Ralph Richardson as commandant of British forces in Cyprus and Sal Mineo as young terrorist who won the Golden Globe for support actor. Also the sensible, emotive soundtrack by Ernest Gold won Oscar 1960 for Original Dramatic Score.Colorful and evocative cinematography by Sam Leavitt, filmed in Israel and Cyprus with spectacular production design by Richard Day. Over budgeted, as cost more than five million dollars , an incredible amount at the time.This chronicle about the post-WWII partition of Palestine will like to historical events enthusiastic.
  • wes-connors9 November 2008
    Otto Preminger's presentation of Leon Uris' novel "Exodus" tried to evoke comparisons, in its trailer, to "Gone with the Wind" and "The Birth of a Nation". Those films overcome ideological flaws, and remain genuine, undeniable classics. Despite the starry cast and sweeping grandeur, "Exodus" fails to achieve its epic intentions. Mr. Preminger, coming off the superb "Anatomy of a Murder", gives it a long and dull direction. Paul Newman (as Ari Ben Canaan) and Eva Marie Saint (as Kitty Fremont) are quite unconvincing, in the leading roles. Still, there are some good characterizations, and nicely staged scenes.

    The film offers two obvious, award-garnering career moves: Sal Mineo's masterful supporting performance, and Ernest Gold's beautiful musical score. Mr. Mineo (as Dov Landau) won a "Golden Globe" as "Best Supporting Actor"; and, arguably, he also deserved the year's "Academy Award". His subplot, played with pretty blonde newcomer Jill Haworth (as Karen Johansson), is far and away the most interesting story, thanks to Mineo's acting work. Mr. Gold's "Exodus" theme is also outstanding, selling well over a million copies of the Ferrante and Teicher version alone; it won not only an Oscar, but also a Grammy as 1960's "Song of the Year".

    ****** Exodus (12/15/60) Otto Preminger ~ Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Sal Mineo
  • I'm a college guy that doesn't entirely mind your modern day Hollywood, but occasionally I like to go out and rent a classic like this. If you're like me that can be a dangerous bet, but you're safe with this film. Its really quite moving.

    This adaptation of the birth of Israel is touching as it the struggle of the post WWII Jews, native Palestinians, and West at a crucial point in history. Our modern turmoil in the Middle East makes this film very relevant all these years later.

    The acting and script were A+. It takes a lot to make me watch an old film, but this one certainly does the trick. Its over 200 minutes long, but it won't feel like it!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Heroes versus villains" in a simplistic propaganda setting, full of clichés, one-dimensional acting and poor directing. One hero (Paul Newman, also seen in action while most convincingly disguised as an Arab, yes an Arab) gets shot in the back, almost dies in being patched up by the heroic nurse outdoing herself (though not in acting, which is reduced to frowning) then forgets about his back and uses it to carry a child out of danger in a long and difficult hike. And guess what? The Jew and the Christian have fallen in love in spite of being "different"! But there's more! A naïve fifteen years old angelic Jewish maiden also falls in love, is brutally slaughtered by an Arabic assassin while heroically guarding her kibbutz after much singing and dancing, then buried in one grave with the Good Arab, murdered by his own people. There must be some hidden message here. And it's a good thing that films like this one show how simple things really are.
  • I guess when EXODUS was adapted from the Uris novel ( I've not read the book so any criticisms are to do with the book being translated to screen ) the creation of the Jewish State Of Israel and events surrounding would have been fresh in everyone's mind . This leads to a fairly serious problem watching the movie in 2005 and that's factual events are skimmed over with little explanation . Or maybe the facts presented are done so in such a simplistic manner they are totally confusing to a present day audience with no knowledge of the present Israeli Arab conflicts For example the Haganah and Irgun are important to the plot . Do we have any satisfactory explanation to what they are ? There is a brief throwaway line about the differences between the two but it's hardly factual unless you believe the Haganah were a sort of Jewish Greenpeace .Likewise we're shown the bombing of The St David Hotel but it's skated over so slightly as to be deemed offensive . Did you know that many Jews died in the atrocity ? Did you know that after the bombing David Ben Guerion ( Look him up in a search engine - He was far more important than this movie makes out ) described the Irgun as " The enemy of the Jewish people " ? And the prison breakout at Acre seems to be totally Hollywoodized

    Okay it's not a documentary , but this simplicity seems to interfere with character motivation where Ari Ben Canaan decides to switch from the Haganah to the Irgun because " We'll need all the men we can get to fight the Arabs " . This unconvincing on screen character motivation combined with the length of the movie gives the whole scenario a feel of pot boiler mini series rather than a historical document , so by the time we're introduced to Ari's best friend from childhood - An Arab of course - and an escaped Nazi war criminal I was expecting Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Seymour to put in an appearance somewhere

    I hope I'm not contradicting myself here but I found the tone of the movie very grim and much of this is down to bad things happening to good people and vice versa . Innocent people die while terrorists on both sides survive beyond the final reel , but I know that in real life karma ( The mystical concept that people get what they truly deserve in life ) doesn't exist so maybe I shouldn't criticise too hard . What I do know is that you won't be doing too much laughing watching this movie

    EXODUS isn't a total waste of time and has some positives . Even reviewers who have expressed a dislike for the movie have credited the good cast and of course the score . It's also interesting to note that while movies featuring the Irish troubles are nearly always totally Anglophobic ( THE DEVIL'S OWN being a good example ) the Brits here while not exactly being shown as heroes aren't exactly shown as being villains either and a character does praise the conduct of the British Army during the mandate period along with General Sutherland being shown in a very sympathetic light - You don't have to be Jewish to sympathise with the Jews

    As for my own opinions of modern day Israelis I would say I respect and admire them more than I actually like them while EXODUS is a film that is very difficult to admire and respect though is not entirely unlikable
  • The years have dimmed my memory of EXODUS but I realized that I should have written a review for it long ago. What stayed with me, after seeing the film, was the gorgeous and uplifting "Theme from Exodus" by Ernest Gold.

    I never read the Leon Uris novel, but understand that a lot of incidents had to be underplayed in the film because the huge novel required a long film of over three hours to do it justice. As it is, it's a bit overlong and full of rich, episodic incidents in the story of the creation of the Palestian war of liberation. It's a sprawling epic and does get a bit tedious at times but the performances all hold the interest.

    Especially good are PAUL NEWMAN and EVA MARIE SAINT in the leads, with SAL MINEO giving what is arguably his best performance as a rebel with a cause, and numerous other international players lending their talents.

    But the overall effect is somewhat blunted by too much exposition and a lethargy that seems to build during the middle of the story. However, no denying it's quite an achievement on an historical basis and that Ernest Gold score is still worth admiring.
  • grahamsj330 October 2000
    Warning: Spoilers
    Wow. I LOVE this film! Director Otto Preminger outdid himself on this one. The music is a hauntingly beautiful, legendary score. Set in postwar Palestine, the Jewish settlers await the crucial UN vote on the creation of the State of Israel. The story is told from a decidedly Jewish point of view, so there is some "slant" to the storytelling. I think that the Arab side of the story could have been told in more depth. There are wonderful peaceful scenes of the countryside and it's pastoral people. The peace is sometimes shattered by the Irgun or Haganah who are violently fighting the British protectorate troops. Once Israel is voted into existence, the fighting begins for survival. The Palestinians believe that they've lost their country and will fight to get it back. This is a fight that is going on yet today and that makes the history depicted in this film all the more relevant. The cast is so star-laden that the acting is first-rate. Many of the big names of the day are here: Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Sal Mineo, Lee J. Cobb, Jill Haworth, Peter Lawford and John Derek. This is truly an epic film!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Otto Preminger has an odd track record among film directors. He liked to tackle big topics, and some of his films remain quite good: THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM about drug addiction; ANATOMY OF A MURDER about the law and rape-murder trials; ADVISE AND CONSENT about the maneuvering of politicians in the selection of a controversial Secretary of State. Some of his films date badly, like THE MOON IS BLUE where the personality of the pert young woman, who mentioned she was a "virgin" was a big thing in 1953 but now the comedy seems quite lame. Also there are his awful later films like SKIDOO (Groucho Marx's swan song film) or HURRY SUNDOWN about racial antipathies in the "New South" of the 1960s.

    EXODUS, based on a popular novel by Leon Uris, is one of Preminger's best films - dealing with the creation of the state of Israel, and the problems the Jewish immigrants and settlers faced against the British and Arabs. Actually Preminger's own Jewish background possibly made the film more personal than most of his films. In the 1940s, as a refugee come to the U.S. he frequently found himself playing Nazi villains in films like THEY GOT ME COVERED or THE PIED PIPER. It probably did not sit too well with him, although he would occasionally still do a Nazi in a movie after his directing took off (as the Commendant of the prison camp in Billy Wilder's STALAG 17).

    The Preminger effort at directing was actually one of his weaknesses. When his films were great it was because of the subject matter, acting, and vigor of his directions (he ran a tight ship on his productions), but he never developed a style like Hitchcock or Welles or Ford or Hawks. In fact his success at the box office was in part due to his getting his movies in on time, and keeping to budgets (which shows his tight ship approach worked well). But none of his films consecutively show a developing approach to movie making like "the Lubitsch Touch".

    Given a big theme, and a decent script, and a good cast Preminger could do well. He does very well here. The founding of Israel is still a remarkable story that is not concluded yet - especially as the survival of the state remains a major international problem to this day. One only has to read the newspapers to see how many Arabs want the state to end, or at least be controlled by international policies. But the Israelis are not pushovers - the film explains that. They won't go out of existence again for anyone.

    During World War II the fate of Europe's Jews was basically ignored in the rest of the world, angering the survivors. One particularly galling aspect to it was that (due to concerns about oil) the British controlling Palestine refused to allow Jewish refugees in. The Arabs were willing to toy with collaborating with the Nazis (the activities of the Grand Mufti with Hitler is mentioned in the film). At the end of the war Jewish refugees began flooding into Palestine (or at least trying to). The British, now under a Labour Government under Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin, kept the refugees in "camps" in Cyprus.

    The British were facing the end of their empire. India and Pakistan shared newspaper coverage in 1946-1948 with Israel as "trouble spots". The former were better handled by Attlee's Viceroy Lord Mountbatten, who knew how to hand over the power. But not Palestine. Too many interests in neighboring Arab states from Egypt to the Persian Gulf were involved. So the British acted quite ham-handed.

    And the Jews reacted violently. One of the incidents of the film is the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1947, but there had been earlier ones (such as the assassination of Britain's High Commissioner to the Middle East, Lord Moyne, in 1944). Each time the Jews acted, the British reacted. In the end the Jews considered the Labour Party (normally the party most English Jews supported) anti-Semitic, labeling the camps that were set up "Bevingrad" after the British Foreign Secretary.

    The script gets the time down flawlessly. Look at Peter Lawford's anti-Semitic officer (one of Lawford's best performances by the way), who sees Jews as either Bolsheviks or Pawn Brokers. Or Ralph Richardson's General Sutherland, a humane mane who resigns when he can't stand the job anymore. Look at John Derek's "good Arab" who sacrifices himself to save Paul Newman's Jewish settlement. Or the Nazis (Marius Goring) who are now offering their service to the Arabs. Note too the serious divisions among the Jews who favor diplomacy and law (Lee J. Cobb) as opposed to those who favor terrorism (David Opatashu). The film is excellent for presenting the Jewish version of the Palestinian/Israeli situation. Is it the full story? No, the full story can't be compressed that easily into one film or one book. But it is a good place to start.
  • tieman648 August 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    "Flatten all of Gaza! The Americans didn't stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren't surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no neighbourhoods, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing!" - Gilad Sharon

    "The essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest." - Einstein

    The early 1960s saw the release of a number of Zionist flicks. These films typically portrayed brave Jews working in tandem with world leaders to set up the modern State of Israel. Standing in the way of our heroes are always various "evil Arabs", all hell-bent on killing Jews and destroying Israel (Israel "officially gained independence" in 1948). Two of the more famous films in this wave were Otto Preminger's "Exodus" and Melville Shavelson's "Cast a Giant Shadow", the latter co-funded by John Wayne, everybody's favourite psycho patriot.

    Most of these films are racist, propagandistic, demonize "Arabs" or selectively ignore the various atrocities and/or massacres committed by Britain and Zionists during the early 20th century. Unsurprisingly, they also adhere to Stuart Kaufman's famous 7 rules of nationalism. One: if an area was ours for 500 years and yours for 50 years, it should belong to us - you are merely occupiers. Two: if an area was yours for 500 years and ours for 50 years, it should belong to us - borders must not be changed. Three: if an area belonged to us 500 years ago, but never since then, it should belong to us - it is the Cradle of our Nation. Four: if a majority of our people live there, it must belong to us - they must enjoy the right of self-determination. Five: if a minority of our people live there, it must belong to us - they must be protected against your oppression. Six: our dream of greatness is Historical Necessity, yours is Fascism. Seven: our cultural continuity and purpose matters, yours does not.

    Regardless, Israel was illegally formed in the late 1940s, the result of the by-passing of the UN Security Council, and the violent ejecting of some 750,000 Palestinians from their land before any lawful international consensus was reached. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the idea of "Israel", the sheer speed and tactlessness at which she was created would lead to decades of conflict. Lessing Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, would prophetically say in 1944: "The concept of a racial state – the Hitlerian concept - is repugnant to the civilised world. I urge that we do nothing to set us back on the road to the past. To project at this time the creation of a Jewish state or commonwealth is to launch a singular innovation in world affairs which might well have incalculable consequences." But nobody listened. In an instant, 55 percent of Palestine (85 percent of Palestine was controlled by "Arabic" Palestinians) was taken by a Jewish minority who had previously controlled 7 percent. The Palestinian majority, and their right to self determination, was ignored. Over the years Israel would acquire more land, which it would dub "disputed territory", though international consensus and international law deems these territories illegally occupied and in breech of the Geneva convention and numerous UN resolutions. Zionist mythology likewise portrays itself as the victim of several key wars (the Six Day War, the 1973 war, the Suez conflict, the 1947 war), when historical fact tends to state precisely the opposite.

    Bizarrely, most of these films use the Holocaust as the sole justification for the creation of the State of Israel. But Zionism predates the Holocaust, and really gained steam in the mid 1800s. Indeed, even the six million number – the official number of Jews who died in WW2 – has been around before WW2, the figure used in the 1800s and early 1900s to sanction various Zionist movements.

    The irony is, Palestinians and Jews are genetically virtually identical, they have the same paternal ancestors, and the whole concept of "Palestinians" was cooked up and propagated by the Roman and British Empires to scatter and rename Jews for the purpose of strengthening their own rule and destroying cohesiveness in the region ("Philistines", from whom the term "Palestinian" is derived, were originally the enemies of ancient Israelites). A further irony is that many ancient Jews simply converted (most were forced) to Islam and thus eventually became "Palestinians". Many Jewish customs themselves stem from an effort to assimilate to prevailing Muslim customs. And of course Palestine, under the Ottoman empire, was packed with Jews, Christians, Druze, Gypsies and Muslims, all living together.

    Some view Zionism as a religious movement (Israel is becoming increasingly atheist), others insist that "tribes" should be allowed to return to where they came, though it is unlikely that persons living in the year 1948 have any kind of memory of, or connection with, life in 1200 BC Jerusalem. Today, Israel is virtually an offshoot of the US military, no longer a state with an army but an army with a state. A common view is that she is a "tiny nation" in the middle of "aggressive Arab nations", but the northern and north eastern rims of Africa are virtually controlled by the Western Empires, along with Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan further south and east. It is Syria and Iran who are surrounded by Western Power.

    "Exodus" eventually degenerates into preachy speechifying. It is reductive, does no justice to any position and, as is typical of such films, casts Gentiles for most of its Jewish roles. Unsurprisingly, the films pander to American and Christian egos, the "Jew" rehabilitated for Western audiences after decades of Western persecution. Hollywood did a similar thing with the Japanese following WW2.

    2/10 - See "Paradise Now", "Lemon Tree", the masterful "The Time That Remains", Justine Shapiro's "Promises" and Yoav Shamir's "Checkpoint". Worth no viewings.
  • Paul Newman leads a terrific cast in a very moving and important movie, one which should be revisited by all who lack a feel for what that region of the world is REALLY like. It is a timeless movie that is not shown very often and should be shown regularly.
  • govanal18 October 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    I love the theme music for this film and, with such powerful subject material, I expected an epic. I was sorely disappointed. Opinions of the film often seem to depend on the extent to which the reviewer sympathises with the politics as portrayed. However, setting politics aside, this is a really bad film, condemned to death by wooden acting, stilted dialog and poor direction. When 'Karen' unexpectedly dies near the end, I was convinced it was because someone couldn't stand any more of her terrible acting! Even worthies such as Newman and Richardson seem to struggle with the lines they've been given. Newman's speech at Karen's burial is cringe-worthy, and he looks embarrassed to be making it. Even the magnificent theme music is largely wasted, played at apparently arbitrary points during the film including, for example, Newman catching a bus. This film is not the epic it could have been, it's not even average.
  • Exodus... or how Zionism was romanticized for an American audience to get a broader acceptance in times when good and reliable information was scarce and people still trusted cinema as their source of news as in the times of news reels.

    This film is pure Zionist propaganda, with terrible stilted acting, triumphalist unreal dialogue and an inane fictional scenario, like all propaganda films tend to be.

    In short: it's chuck full of romantic bullshit, ergo gratia, a group of Jewish immigrants pull a Masada on a ship off the coast of Cyprus and so on and so forth with an ending that will make any self-respecting viewer's stomach turn or even vomit.

    How unfortunate that many, if not most, of the places here depicted have been destroyed by the very same people this film tries to sanitize and exult.

    This film could easily be placed up there (or more appropriately "down there") with the Nazi film Jud Süß ("Süss the Jew")

    3:30 hours LOOOONG... no wonder comedian Mort Sahl, so they say, when attending the premiere, apparently bored by the lengthy film, stood up after three hours and exclaimed, "Otto, let my people go!" Can't deny that both cinematography and locations were amazing, therefore I'm giving it a generous high mark of 4 stars out of 10.
  • gring029 March 2014
    A boatload of illegal immigrants are granted entry into a 3rd World country after threatening to blow up their own women and children whilst on hunger-strike. Showing their gratitude, they then embark on horrific terrorist attacks against the beleaguered British (fresh from liberating Belsen and helping free Europe from Nazism) and the indigenous population. Eventually being successful through bombing and killing, they then graciously offer the indigenous population the right to remain in their homes and shops to be treated as "equals" under an alien system. The final speech, ostensibly spoken in front of the two dead (an Arab appeaser and blond 15 year old Jew fortunate enough not to have had her hands and legs cut out and eyes gouged out) describes the speaker as angry enough to bark like a dog before saying, God help him, that he will one day see all living in peace and harmony. Just before going off to kill more Arabs.

    Only one Arab is presented in a positive light- a fresh-faced American-accented chief who is clearly a good guy as he has no problem with giving his people's land away to those wanting all the land eventually for themselves. Morality is never treated when it comes to the Irgun's terrorism, but rather political expediency. Jews are portrayed as blond and blue-eyed in a way to make Americans at the time, a mere four years after Suez, identify with them (in the book all are portrayed as dark in hair and complexion). Scenes are shot at an excruciatingly-slow pace or just thrown in to reinforce the justification of the terrorists (as in one scene where the Irgun leader asks Mineo to relate his experience in Auschwitz, seemingly for the hell of it). The acting is atrocious, Mineo's in particular. I have no idea why he is held up for praise given the unforgivable emoting he is required to do. But then, with such two-dimensional acting (when showing this in class, my students had no idea what Saint was talking about when she complained about her "accident" whilst driving), that is to be expected. Given that this film was made as propaganda to justify continued abuses of the Israeli state, it is deplorable that it enjoys such a high rating on IMDb.

    http://tracesofevil.com
  • When I read in a review here that this was an "exciting historical drama; a fictional story told around actual events.", I was flabbergasted! I was 19 when I saw the film in 1960 in Paris. At that time I liked more or less the film, criticizing its length; a good script does not need to take 200 minutes to expose a subject. But this is not the most important thing here.

    When you tackle a subject related to a major historical event, you have no right whatsoever to distort facts.

    When you tackle a subject so sensitive as the consequences of the holocaust and the situation of Jews in search of a country to live at the end of WWII, you have no right to distort facts.

    Preminger being of Jewish origins himself had no right to use this historical event et to distort history.

    This appeared clearly to me after visioning the bluray and its bonuses.

    Nowhere is mentioned that the refugees boarded the ship in South of France. The ship was acquired in the USA and not Cyprus. The refugees never left the ship until the scandalous attack by the British forces who jumped from one destroyer onto the ship as shown on newsreels presented in the bonus of the DVD. And worst of all nowhere it is mentioned that Great Britain boarded the refugees on 3 prison ships and send them back to Hamburg in Germany. It is because of those actions that at last the United Nations reached a semi consensus to order Britain to leave Palestine and decided the creation the State of Israel.

    Such a treatment of history, of events which were so terrible after the horrors of WWII cant deserve any prize.

    This film is a tissue of lies from beginning to the end. It is too serious a subject to excuse oneself saying that it is a fiction story. As far as I'm concerned the bluray will directly go into the garbage can. It does not deserve better treatment.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I did not read any reviews about this film prior to seeing it.

    In retrospect I should have, as it would have saved me from wasting time on cheap trash.

    This film is extremely badly done piece of propaganda that has next to nothing to do with actual events it is supposed to portray.

    What exactly is the reason not to tell the real story? Why change even basic facts that can be proved such as origin of the ship (it was USA and NOT Cyprus), and historical fact that British actually sent Jewish people this movie is about back to Germany.

    This film has nothing at all to do with actual history. Its nothing but piece of garbage. A very boring one at that.
  • jem13223 March 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    This epic certainly gets interesting reviews. Filmgoers who catch 'Exodus' belong to one of two clubs: those who love it, and those who don't. I'm one of the former. Even though it has its flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed this Otto Preminger-directed film. For one thing the subject matter is extremely interesting- the Jewish struggle for independence and the Palestine issue- and is still (unfortunately) recognisable today. An excellent cast brings this epic to life. Paul Newman as the Jewish hero is miscast but as always Newman does an admirable job, even if he doesn't really find his own power and passion until his final speech. Eva Marie Saint is excellent as the American nurse who comes to love him, and understand the plight of the Jewish people. Sal Mineo should have won the Best Supporting Actor award for his work (he was nominated, but lost), but maybe the real scene-stealer is Jill Haworth. She is truly heartbreaking. I do think the first half is better than the second, even if the second half does have more action. The first half just moves much more fluidly, while Preminger seems to jump between impressive, dramatic set pieces and the quiet build up to these in the second half. For the most part though, it's compelling, thought- provoking and quite excellent.
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