DOLOROSA (director for stage:
Stephen Daldry; director for film: John Bailey;
screenwriter: David Hare; cinematographer: John
Bailey; editor: Raúl Dávalos; music: Christopher Klatman;
cast: David Hare; Runtime: 90; MPAA
Rating: NR; producer: Iris Merlis; Image Entertainment;
"If you're into eloquent storytelling, you should be moved by this intimate personal take on current Israel and Palestine."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The 50-year-old British
playwright David Hare goes on a spellbinding 90 minute rant as an
observant outsider on his 1997 trip to the 50-year-old
Israel and the occupied territory of Palestine, which
as a one-man stage show was directed for the London
stage by Stephen Daldry in 1998 and in 1999 opened on
Broadway. The movie is directed by John Bailey.
We learn that Hare is not
Jewish, but that his wife is. The tourist in Israel
tries to get a first-hand heads up on the current
Israeli and Palestinian conflict by talking with local
politicians, artists, theater people and the ordinary
citizens. Don't expect answers to solve the conflict,
but what you get is the only thing possible from such
a quest that makes sense: Hare's gift for storytelling
and to mimic the intense voices from the Jews and
Arabs caught in a passionate struggle, where each side
has a different view of the final solution. What Hare
evokes is a strange vision for the region where
everyone reacts according to their faith, that it
seems impossible to think of such stuff as being
actually factual even if it is.
Hare believes Israel is a
cause. He first visits the sophisticated and
hedonistic modern western city of Tel Aviv and takes
time to ponder Israel's clash between its divide of
secular Jews and the religious, its search for a
Jewish identity and how the country was founded in
1948 on the influence of European playwright Theodor Herzl and the Zionism movement.
In the nearby port city of Jaffa, Hare drinks Merlot
and talks with a controversial Jewish theater
co-producer Eran Banier, who gave Shakespeare's Romeo
and Juliet a Middle-East makeover with his Arab
co-producer and they found the conflict among Jews and
Arabs even darker than did the play's rival families.
Hare next spends
the Sabbath with an Orthodox Jewish family of
transplanted Americans, who are now settlers in Sheri
Tikya, located inside the borders of the Palestinian
territory. Hare finds things uncomfortable living in a
settlement with Bel Air-like suburban houses that are
protected by the IDF and the settler's own security
force, as he tries to get a feel for their beliefs and
why they chose to live in such a dangerous spot.
Despite appearing rational, Hare's middle-aged hosts
hold extreme irrational views on their settlement and
why they refuse to budge from their hardline stance
even though the Arabs all around them are filled with
hatred against them and wish only to kill them. It's
scary to hear the playwright talk about how much the
settlers were against the Oslo Accords of 1993 and why
they applaud the Jewish settler who killed their
Jewish president, Rabin, before he could sign a peace
treaty with Arafat.
On Hare's visit to the
poverty stricken and ultra-Islamic religious Gaza
Strip, he learns of how the corrupt PLO offers little
hope of ever negotiating a peace treaty with Israel
and witnesses how the standard of living for the Palestinian is radically
different from those of the Israelis. Talking with popular Arab
politician Sharif, Hare is told that there can be no
peace talks until there is political reform in the
occupied territory. In Ramallah, the largest Arab city
on the West Bank, the women wear dresses and the
atmosphere is less oppressive than in Gaza, and from
theater people Hare listens to several amusing
parables why the Jews and Arabs are in such a bind.
In the last leg of his
journey, Hare visits Jerusalem and is dismayed at how
little influence Christianity has on the city. His
tour of Jerusalem ends with a visit to the Holocaust
museum of Yad Vashem, as the playwright is angered by
the exhibit of the Nazi Heinrich Himmler's statement
that we had the moral right to exterminate the Jews
deeply taken aback by the routine documentation
on display of the victims of the camps.
In the epilogue, Hare
returns home and blends together memories of his visit
with the London landscape by contrasting the passion
and vitality for their cause by both Israelis and Palestinians with the more
"comatose familiarity" of Great Britain.
If you're into eloquent
storytelling, you should be moved by this intimate
personal take on current Israel and Palestine. Hare offers
about as much clarity on the conflict as possible for
The title refers to
Christ's last walk to Cavalry, now a street in
Jerusalem lined with tourist shops.
REVIEWED ON 7/13/2012 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ