‘Jerusalem’ movie review: A prismatic portrait of a the holy city


The sun rises over the Mount of Olives in “Jerusalem,” a beautiful Imax 3-D documentary that dives into the history and daily life of the holy city. (Dustin Farrell)
November 21, 2013

Shot in gorgeous Imax 3-D, the new documentary “Jerusalem” boasts the expected soaring shots of the holy city’s religious landmarks: Christianity’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre; Islam’s Dome of the Rock; and Judaism’s Western Wall of the Temple Mount. But the film is at its most moving, paradoxically, when the camera gets down to street level, seeming to squeeze, for example, into a small shop in the walled Old City, where two men play backgammon amid claustrophobically over-hung racks of trinkets.

In addition to being a concise history of the 4,000-year-old city — a tour facilitated on camera by archaeologist Jodi Magness and off camera by sonorous narrator Benedict Cumberbatch — “Jerusalem” also presents a prismatic portrait of a living city. That’s courtesy of three photogenic and personable Jerusalemites who represent the city’s three major faiths: Farah Ammouri, a Muslim; Nadia Tadros, a Christian; and Revital Zacharie, a Jew. They are shown going about their daily lives, more or less side by side.

For a movie with a message of peace and harmony, however, “Jerusalem” ends on a somewhat down note. Maybe some day everyone in Jerusalem will get along, one of the young women comments, as the camera shows the three women passing each other in the street, “but not yet.”

Unrated. At the National Museum of Natural History’s Samuel C. Johnson Imax Theater. Contains nothing objectionable. 45 minutes.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Michael O’Sullivan has worked since 1993 at The Washington Post, where he covers art, film and other forms of popular — and unpopular — culture.
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