A Universally Inspiring Drama about the Exodus of a Nearly F
David Crumm | Canton, Michigan | 04/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""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.
Finally, Schlomo benefits from an Israeli family who adopt him and become his strongest defense. If you're not Jewish and don't particularly care about Israel -- the film still is stirring. On a human level, this is a heart-warming movie about the spiritual callings of both parents and children.
The film runs nearly two and a half hours and, eventually, Schlomo becomes a young man and falls in love with a white Jewish girl, named Sarah. Unfortunately, Sarah and Schlomo have a major crisis in their relationship. I won't spoil the outcome, but as their emotions flow back and forth -- Sarah eventually says to Schlomo: "It is amazing how many mothers love you!" And that's certainly true, we have to agree.
As a parent watching this film myself, that scene was stirring. This is a rare movie if only because the parents (with one or two horrible exceptions) are depicted from start to finish as fiercely, compassionately committed in their love of their children. There's a great deal of hope portrayed here for the world's orphaned children -- and that's a very welcome message these days.
In the end, that makes "Live and Become" is a universal experience."
The adventures of an Ethiopian boy in Israel
customer | Longmont, Colorado | 06/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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. "
Ping Lim | Christchurch | 12/30/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This tour-de-force told the story of an Ethiopian Jew who was ushered to Israel only to be discriminated against just as he did in Ethiopia. It all came down to the colour of the skin. In Ethiopia, he's regarded as an outsider and in Israel, just like his counterparts, he's been branded as the opportunist who took advantage of the welfare provided by the Government. He was adopted into a leftist and non-religious family that loved him unconditionally. With a strong foundation, he was left to explore and discover his true identity. The movie spanned from his early childhood until his adult year when his life came a full circle. A movie that's beautifully made and overwhelmingly powerful. Highly recommended."
LIVE AND BECOME!!
Loves To Read | Twin Cities, MN USA | 05/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Live and Become
Frances Bender | Washington, DC USA | 05/20/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Live and Become is a coming-of-age story in an exotic setting. It concerns a little Ethiopian Christian boy who is sent by his mother on an Operation Moses plane to Israel with the Ethiopian Jews who are being rescued. It takes him a long time to untangle his identity as he faces both acceptance and rejection by various Israelis. Things all get settled by the end. Languages spoken in the film are Hebrew, French, English and Amharic with English sub-titles. It is both charming and interesting."