11 February 2007 | marcin_kukuczka
It was time for him to speak...
Kingdom of Judah, the 600s B.C. The Holy City of Jerusalem sees a great celebration - noble Jewish king Josiah (Hicham Ibrahimi) has found the law of Moses after 100 years of its absence. Moreover, King Solomon's Temple has been beautifully restored. A lot of pious Jews take part in the celebrations, including Chelkia (Michael Cronin) with his young son. Who could predict that this little boy would once play a decisive role in the history of Israel?
Time goes by and we are 16 years later when Israel occurs not to have answered to God's signs and the yoke of Babylonian slavery is close... King Nebuchadnezzar II (Klaus Maria Brandauer) is planning to conquer the kingdom. There is, however, a prophet: now an adult Jeremiah (Patrick Dempsey), son of Chelkia, who remembers the glory of Judah from his childhood. It is him who has been given the authority to speak by God himself...Will the new king and Israelites listen to the words of the prophet or will Jeremiah's "pleas fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts"?
Harry Winer's film is one of the newest biblical movies. However, it is one of the few biblical epics which not only focuses on history alone but contains a universal content. The story of the prophet who lived more than 2500 years ago is a background. What is in the center of attention is a story of MAN in general, his struggles, fears, weaknesses and doubts. Jeremiah lives rather a peaceful life before God calls him. He is in love with a young innocent girl, Judith (Leonor Varela) and plans to marry her. His world seems to be calm at first but day by day he gets worried about the terrible injustice and wickedness around him. God's light works in his heart and... finally, he speaks up when the time is come. The message does not reveal the spirit of the world but the spirit of God...no wonder Jeremiah does not meet understanding from the people. The brutal end of Jerusalem is a consequence of the people's deeds since wickedness leads to war and destruction. Although the content seems easy, there is a wonderful psychological insight into Jeremiah's spiritual life: "Lord, not me" he says, "I am too weak for this burden". Later, however, he does not give up even under the burden of persecutions and blind accusations calling him a "false prophet" and a "blasphemer". Consider, for instance, the moment he speaks to the king Sedecia (Vincent Regan) and pleads him to turn to God.
Besides that aspect, JEREMIAH is also a very well made work as a film. Some of biblical epics lack action and authenticity. That, however, cannot be said about Harry Winer's film where everything appears to be realistic, from the locations through costumes, sets to people participating. The cast are selected very well, some of them are famous actors but this does not disturb in anything. Klaus Maria Brandauer does a wonderful job as the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, a king about whom we find pretty much in the Bible. I heard some voices saying that he looks too European to play a Babylonian. Yes, partly true, but see him in this role and you will surely consider him the best choice after first viewing. Wonderful actor who does a perfect job! Patrick Dempsey is good in the main role expressing Jeremiah's gentleness combined with strong faith and growing courage. A mention must also be made of Oliver Reed who shines in the role of obstinate general Safan. This was one of his last roles, perhaps some people will say that he may be admired in a number of other movies, including his last unforgettable part in GLADIATOR. Yet, I believe that his Safan character is really worth attention and surely the one not to be skipped.
JEREMIAH is, besides the biblical story, a story of unfulfilled love. I found the Jeremiah-Judith plot pretty moving and particularly universal. Judith is the representation of his dreams, his childlike desires of happiness, his pure fantasies. She raises excitement in him but it is all very childlike, chasten at first - these are no lusts and desires but a pure mutual joy. It's their true feeling. That is also something that differs the couple from the rest. You will cry at the moment of her death, it is so intensely touching.
If someone asked me if there are any flaws in the film, I would have one complaint to JEREMIAH. It is a bit too short and contains much action in very brief moments. While viewing the film for the first time, I got lost when the king Josiah is dead, then when Jehoiakim (Andrea Occhipinti) comes (the one who symbolically burned the scroll), dies and, finally, Sedecia (Vincent Regan) is crowned as the king of Judah. It would be better if the film lasted for 120 minutes and showed all this clearly since these are crucial facts that lead directly to the tragic events entailed at the end.
If you like the biblical movies and epic productions, JEREMIAH is a film for you. Don't be afraid that it is preachy. It is the Bible on screen in the purest sense of this meaning! It's a history and a delicate invitation to reflect on some aspects of the world and life in this world. The entire movie lifts audiences to a higher level and is educational. 9/10!
It was time for him to speak,
Yet, his pleas really fell on deaf ears and hardened hearts,
Years passed by and the Temple of the Lord was rebuilt at last,
This time, however, Jeremiah's greatest dream finally came true:
The Temple was also rebuilt in human hearts...