[ilds] The screening of Judith at the 30th International Haifa Film Festival (a bit long)

Rony Alfandary alfandary at gmail.com
Wed Oct 15 13:11:43 PDT 2014

 Hello all,
Here are my  general and personal impressions of the film and its screening.
1. The formal occasion for the screening was the 50th anniversary of its
production date. it was Judith's producer's son, Kurt Unger, who brought
the date to the attention of the festival organizers. he was present at the
screening and carried a moving speech before the show. He was 16 years old
at the time of the filming and worked as a teaboy. incidentally, Kurt Unger
also produced a film version of Pope Joan in 1972. there were about 60
people present at the screening and a  small reception was held afterwards.
2. Lawrence Durrell was not the main protagonist of the evening and in fact
most people I spoke to at the reception made the familiar error of thinking
him to be his brother Gerald. The main "protagonist" of the evening was the
fact that it was the first international film produced by a Hollywood
studios, Paramount, in the young State of Israel. the budget at the time
was , and perhaps still is relatively, huge - 5 million $. I did mention to
several people, including Unger, that the novel form of Judith was
published recently by ILDS . so maybe an interest in that has been
3. Much was spoken about Sophia Loren's presence and personality in the
film and location. apparently, her presence in Israel in those days caused
quite a stir and many israeli ministers and army generals visited the film
location looking for her... nobody mentioned that Durrell himself was
around too.
4. the film itself . I don't know how many of you actually saw the film. i
was quite fascinated by it. once you withhold your judgment and suspend
all, or most, of your critical faculties, it is quite an enjoyable film. it
is filmed well and the story is quite gripping eventhough its adherence to
credible historical fact is very shaky and naive at best.  it portrays the
days leading to Israel's declaration of independence and the beginning of
the 1948 war in very stark and heroic colours, as perhaps was done in war
films of that time anyhow.many of the actors in the cast are israeli actors
who since became quite well known. overall, the acting is convincing with
the exception of lovely Loren. I will write about her depiction of Judith
in a bit. the film is set in Kibbutz Shamir in the North and also in Haifa
and it is very illuminating to see those locations as shot in 1964.
5. The main thing that got my attention was Judith's character as portrayed
by Loren. Clearly, she was the wrong actress, wonderful as she is, to
portray the character of a Holocaust survivor who survived the camps. she
is just too full of life....still, it was curious to notice again that her
character was portrayed as  a woman who has lost a son, apparently, and who
is tormented by that (though towards the end of the film there is hope that
her son is alive after all). this immediately made me think of Justine and
her preoccupation with her missing son. clearly this was something that
preoccupied Durrell enough to keep cropping up in his work. in my Ph.D.
theses, I made a claim, unproven as yet, that this preoccupation related to
Durrell's sense of being lost himself as a son to his mother when he was
made to leave india and go to a boarding school in England.
6. I was also left with thinking about Durrell's preoccupation with israel
and the fate of the Jewish people, which has been discussed here and may
well be firmly related, as Haag claimed, with his relationship with Eve.
7. Overall, a very moving experience. I thought about the members of ILDS
and wished you were there with me.

*Rony Alfandary*, Ph.D.
*Clinical Social Worker*

Postgraduate Program

of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

School of Social Work

Bar-Ilan University
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