Friday, August 31, 2012

It Is No Dream: The Theodor Herzl Story

"If you will it, it is no dream."
You're fucking twenty minutes late, man. What the fuck is that?"
"Thedor Herzl?"
"State of Israel. If you will it, Dude, it is no dream."

Up until a few weeks ago, this bit of dialogue from The Big Lebowski was all I knew of Theodor Herzl, so when this documentary rolled around, I felt obliged, practically to go see it.

Well, as it turns out, Herzl is the architect of modern Zionism and the State of Israel. A playwright and journalist who sought artistic satisfaction, he ended up trying to solve "the Jewish problem". And, sort of like Andy Garcia's general in For Greater Glory, he ends up finding God trying to unite a people.

What turns him around is an episode where a Jewish French officer is railroaded and sent to Devil's Island. But if that hadn't done it, Lord knows there were a multitude of other anti-semitic events that could spur him on.

Watching this, I got all pissed off over Midnight in Paris again.

So, how is it?

Well, it's an interesting subject, and Herzl was a fascinating guy. He could easily kissed up to the wealthy Jewish establishment that was perfectly comfortable where it was. But he felt for some strange reason that the Jews were not safe without a homeland.

The Brits are there to screw things up, of course, and put the kibosh on things until Hitler comes around and—well, you know how that goes. So, yeah, the whole Holocaust thing could've been ameliorated.

The documentary itself is a little dry, though. A lot dry, really. Herzl died in 1904, and there's just not a lot of film footage to be found. The stock footage they used was suspect, to be charitable. And there's only so many times you can pan over photos of old buildings while still retaining that sense of being there that draws a viewer in.

Also, there aren't really many photos of Herzl himself, and he's got the exact same expression in every one, and usually is in the same pose.

I liked it, was glad I saw it, and glad I know who the guy was now. I'd recommend it for someone interested in the topic. It's not going to draw you in like, say, a great documentary on a veritably goofy topic.

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