National Rebirth as a Movie: Otto Preminger's Exodus

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Although Exodus is not an Israeli film, it has become an inspiring model text for the heroic-nationalist genre in Israeli cinema. The promotion of Zionism as a liberation movement by Exodus was an imperative. When the film was released in 1960, the propagation of the myth of Palestine as 'a land without the people' prior to Zionist settlement was no longer tenable, thus creating a need to rewrite the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for the international community and the American audience in particular. Following a long colonialist tradition, the film presents Zionism as fulfilling a 'civilising mission' with regard to the indigenous Arab population (the 'Canaanites' of the biblical narrative). To further strengthen this reading, the film shows that the native Arabs actually welcomed the Jews and even gave them the land of Palestine voluntarily as an act of gratitude for the progress they brought to this undeveloped corner of the world.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2002

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