Sunday, February 28, 2016

Einstein in the Holy Land Movie Review

Elsa & Albert Einstein from Einstein in the Holy Land

Einstein's Stardust

WJFF Plot: When Albert Einstein visited Palestine in 1932, over 85,000 Jews lived there; and judging from the newspaper headlines, nearly all of them came out to greet the most famous Jew of his generation. For the next 12 days, Einstein kept a personal travel diary cataloging his impressions of the emerging Israeli State; he wrote excitedly about a culture of labor, the future of Zionism and, quite amusingly, of the beautiful women he met in this fascinating new land. Directed by Noa Ben Hagai.

"A Jew returning to his homeland must first find his roots." The famed Noble Prize winner's 12-day visit home is described in fascinating (and honest) detail in Einstein in the Holy Land, an hour-long documentary that portrays its subject as a brilliant, self-described "lone wolf" with an eye for the ladies, who abhorred "senseless violence & loathsome patriotism." Einstein was pivotal in establishing an Israeli state (i.e. Hebrew University) but pulls no punches, taking issue with "dirty streets" and an "orientally alien" feel. To be frank, I wasn't expecting such a candid depiction of a beloved hero. How refreshing.

Grade: B

Einstein in the Holy Land is part of this year's Washington Jewish Film Festival, and is co-presented by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the American University Center for Israeli Studies. A second screening (yesterday was its US premiere) takes place 3:30 PM Tuesday, March 1st at the DCJCC.