Amos Oz: The Nature of Dreams
Details: (G), 86 mins , In Cinemas 29 April 2010, Israel,
Synopsis: Amos Oz is a profilic writer and journalist, strongly identified with the Israeli left and a prominent advocate for a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and a reasoned approach in evaluating Israel's history and politics.This eloquent and dynamic documentary is based on his autobiographical book A Tale of Love and Darkness. Directors Masha Zur Glozman and Yonathan Zur delve into the persona of Oz, picking up on the energy generated by his elegant response to the friction between the personal and political aspects of his life, they offer a rare window of opportunity to experience the world through the literary gaze of this great Israeli author; a man of whom it has been said, knows Israeli society inside and out, especially since he is an outsider, in a very profound sense, of all worlds. This is a journey that follows in the footsteps of the biographical, political and philosophical issues he has personally encountered and impacted on his life.Featuring appearances from Paul Auster, Nadine Gordimer, Salmon Rushdie, Gadi Taub and Sari Nusseibeh.
Early on in this meditative documentary the subject, Israeli author and political commentator Amos Oz, is the guest of honour at a reception held at his country’s consulate in New York. Speaking to a pair of his contemporaries, novelists Paul Auster and Salman Rushdie, he calmly explains that in his lecture the following day he will probably upset the predominantly Jewish audience with his views on what is required to create peace between Israel and Palestine.
“You are the person to say that,” replies Rushdie, who is himself probably rightly shy of public political discourse. “I’m sorry, but this is your fate.”
Fate is a weighted way of putting it, almost implying that it must end badly, and one of the strengths of Masha Zur Glozman and Yonathan Zur’s study of Oz is that they never try to amend their own verdicts to their subject’s involved life. The narrative has a firm but open-ended flow, like on the fluid, illuminative answers that Oz invariably provides to a question. The filmmakers rarely address him directly, or seek commentary on his life and work from supports or otherwise. Instead they follow in his steps, catch his asides, and note his self-deprecating commentary and optimistic meetings.
We have no comparison in Australia for what it is like to be a leading intellectual in Israel, primarily because here the need to discuss and debate ideas can never relate so directly to the nation’s past and future as it does in the Jewish state. Oz (it’s Hebrew for “strength”, a name he took as a militant teenager on kibbutz) is listened to intently, although he knows he’s not always actually influential. At the Israeli consulate function Oz also converses with Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, advising him on what to say in a United Nations speech the next day replying to the broadsides of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Peres listens carefully but subsequently only uses a smidgeon of Oz’s idea, something the writer wryly admits he’s used to.
The documentary’s aesthetic is digital and handheld – it’s on the move because Oz is. There’s little archival footage of the man himself, and a few brief scenes of Oz’s mother looking doleful (she committed suicide in Jerusalem when he was aged 12) using an actress are not only unnecessary, but contradictory to Oz’s own philosophies about the truth and writing. “My work is the work of precision,” he explains, and you gain far more insight into his family from his readings of his acclaimed memoir, 2003’s A Tale of Love and Darkness.
“How can two good people be so disastrous together?” he asks of his parents, and the same query could apply to his views on Israel and Palestine. Oz has long been an advocate of the two-state solution, which includes the division of Jerusalem, and he talks clearly about his support for it, although his comments are framed by a belief that he will not live long enough to witness it occurring. The documentary doesn’t interrogate his beliefs, preferring to show the public life of someone whose art and politics are intertwined with his country’s very being.
Should he not be a politician, so as to push through his aims, Oz is asked. He demurs. “I cannot pronounce the words, ‘no comment’,” he remarks. Amos Oz: The Nature of Dreams makes that exceedingly clear.
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