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  • James Journey to Jerusalem [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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James Journey to Jerusalem [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]


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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
moving but controversial film 1 Mar. 2005
By Roland E. Zwick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
***1/2

In the allegorical "James' Journey to Jerusalem," a deeply religious young man, filled with idealism and hope, leaves his village in Africa to embark on a pilgrimage to the Holy City. There he hopes to glean some spiritual inspiration before returning home to start life as a pastor. However, things do not quite work out for James the way he envisions them. Immediately upon his arrival in Israel and before he can even make it to the famed city, he is unjustly thrown into jail, then "sold" into a kind of paid slavery to the business man who ponies up his bail. James is forced to live in a kind of community barracks with other young men in his situation and is sent around town to do cleaning, gardening and an assortment of other odd jobs. As James toils at his labors and interacts with both his "superiors" and peers, he learns a great deal about life in a land where the weak are taken advantage of by the strong and where friendly words and acts of seeming kindness are doled out with an air of class-conscious racism and condescension.

This is a fascinating film in many ways, for it introduces us to a milieu filled with unfamiliar situations and faces. James is, obviously, a sincere and devout individual whose innocence and naivete endear us to him, even when it is those very qualities that make it difficult for him to exist and function in a world far more crassly commercial and uncaringly cynical than the one he expects to find. Yet, at the same time, James has a strength of spirit and a resourcefulness that allow him to triumph, even if only temporarily, over the adversities that befall him. However, even the saintly James, who keeps a firm grasp on his principles early on, eventually learns that one sometimes has to violate a moral code or two to get ahead in life. In many ways, this is like a modern "Pilgrim's Progress" or "Young Goodman Brown," with the noble protagonist leaving the safety and familiarity of his home to venture forth into a world filled with evils and temptations - but always with the hope of reaching that famed "City on a Hill" at the end.

However, there is one rather disturbing aspect to the film, and that is that, almost without exception, all the Israelis whom James encounters are greedy, grasping exploiters who see James and all of his compatriots as little more than chattel to do their work for them, talking down to and taking advantage of them every chance they get. Even his boss` elderly father, with whom James establishes a certain precarious "friendship," is really just a bitter, angry racist, hardly deserving of James' loyalty and trust. But to be fair, it isn't just the Jewish Israelis - even the black minister of the church that James attends ends up exploiting him. Since the film originates from Israel, it would be a bit difficult to accuse it of being anti-Semitic, and perhaps this film is that country's attempt to come to terms with a decidedly negative aspect of the nation's people and character - equivalent to the many Hollywood films made about racism, discrimination and exploitation in the United States of America.

Whatever the motivation, "James' Journey to Jerusalem" is a moving film about xenophobia, the class struggle and the fragility of hopes and dreams. The ironic final image brings that last theme home in a heartbreaking way. For James does finally reach his destination, but not quite in the way he intended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Charming with a social message 20 Feb. 2005
By Active retiree... - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
James is an inspired young man sent by his village on a pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem. His character is developed at length with his respect and affection for the people he meets in Israel. Except for an eccentric older man (played by Eli Wallach) the Israeli figures are not well developed except to show their suspicion of "guest workers" who may want to stay in the country with welfare programs or take jobs away from natives. Many of the jobs available are due to the restriction of enty by Palestinian Arab workers from Gaza and the west bank. Ironically, the replacement workers from Europe, Africa and elsewhere have suffered themselves at the hands of the intifada. Watchers should know that the movie is cosponsored by the New Israel Fund that has a primary mission of justice for workers and Arab citizens. It is allied with the former Labor socialist party, but has taken new directions. Even knowing the political slant of the messages, there are many enjoyable scenes of James and how he adapts to the realities without losing his sense of mission and pride.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Intense, funny, crazy - story of modern Israel 11 Mar. 2011
By Doctor.Generosity - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Filmaking is alive and well in modern Israel. This is a lively, chaotic and totally charming story of the rough and seedy side of Tel Aviv, where illegal immigrants are exploited for their labor by Shimi, a tough capitalist with a heart of gold. There are many pungent personalities, family conflicts, and a moral challenge to the protagonist, who learns to sell out his spiritual quest for a quick buck - at least for a while. A very Israeli take on itself, where everyone is always striving to capture some small advantage however they can. The acting is uniformly superb. Very funny and teaches more about contemporary Israel than fifty books about the Palestine conflict.

Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Rarity! 26 Jan. 2005
By Wundah - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I absolutely enjoyed this film. It is the story of a young African man and his journey to Jerusalem from his small village. During his travels he learns much about himself through the many "tests" he believes he has been given by his God. What I enjoyed most about this story is that movies are not typically or hardly made about the African men and women that travel far from their homes to the Middle East and Europe with hopes of more prosperous lives yet ending up at the bottom rungs of these societies and virtually ignored. Although this story is about James' journey to test his faith, it also gives a glimpse of what life is like for thousands of young men like him.
a funny poigant satiric slice of life film set in Israel 7 Aug. 2005
By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
With a soundtrack featuring music by Ehud Banai, Gil Smetana, and Noam Halevi, Mr. Alexandrowicz, who is known for his documentary, THE INNER TOUR, has recruited Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe and Hugh Masebenza from South Africa, to tell a witty story of NOT BEING A FRIAR/FRYER in Israel; the worst of fates.

A generation ago, a film based on Ephraim Kishon's SALLAH character, told the story of a Mizrahi Jewish immigrant to Israel who took the worst jobs and poked fun at Israeli society and the JNF. It is now the turn of these guest workers to do the same thing. And in this story, Sallah is now an old, fully absorbed, retired man, who can now take advantage of the people on the lowest immigration rung.

In this story, JAMES arrives at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel.. He is making pilgrimage to the Holy Land for his fictional township, Entshongweniin, in Africa, where he will become a spiritual leader upon his return. They think of Israel as the biblical place. He is immediately arrested as a presumed illegal worker (Actually, when one of the actor sarrived from South Africa to perform in the film, he was arrested and held at the Ben Gurion airport, assumed to be not a tourist but an illegal worker. He had to be bailed out.)

In the film, he prays for deliverance and gets miraculously bailed out; and his adventures as a indebted segregated worker and cleaner begin. Will he ever make it to Jerusalem? Or will he stay on the coastal plain to make more $$? Will his pastor take advantage of him? Or will he take advantage of others? Will his dashiki win out over a nice polo shirt and khakis? Will Shimi's father, Sallah, sell out to real estate interests?
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