Exodus

The fifties were a utopian moment in the creation of Israel. A mere decade old when Leon Uris's epic 1958 novel was published, the Jewish state was seen as a great, heroic gesture that saved a people. Preminger's film recounts with sweeping gusto the events of 1947, sparked when thirty thousand Jews were interned on Cyprus and denied entry to Palestine by the British. A plan is devised by Ari (Paul Newman), a leader of the Jewish underground, to call attention to their plight-a ship, the Exodus, is commandeered, the immigrants rescued, and a journey leading to Palestine begins. As with all great epics, multiple storylines intersect, bringing together a stupendous cast, including Sal Mineo, Lee J. Cobb, Peter Lawford, Ralph Richardson, and, most strikingly, Eva Marie Saint, who plays an American nurse caught up in the impending state. Shot in scenic widescreen, Exodus thrives on the exhilaration of weighty historical change. To its credit, in the midst of the glory there is also a glimpse of a struggle that will not end.

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