10693 Myth and Ethos in Israeli Cinema

Credits: 6 intermediate credits in Film Studies or in History

Prerequisites: none

Recommended: Understanding Movies: Introduction to the Art of Cinema

The course is based on a series of recorded lectures by Anita Shapira (on DVD), ten full-length films, and a reader edited by Nurith Gertz, Yael Munk and Liat Steir-Livny.

The course contrasts traditional images, myths and stories in Zionist life as reflected in cinema with a later critical perspective of the same issues in cinema, historical writing, literature and essays. The issues selected are central to understanding the “Israeli ethos” and are the focus of public debate. These issues demonstrate the changes that took place in the Israeli collective memory with respect to myths and stories on which the Zionist ethos was built.

Topics: History and cinema: the distinction between cinematic and written media – the potential and limitations of each; Representation of the Zionist narrative in films from the beginning of the 20th century until the 1930s; The new Jew: images of the pioneer in the Yishuv period; The Zionist-Socialist utopia; Highlights of the formation of a Jewish secular culture; Eretz Yisrael and Russia: disillusionment with the world of revolution; Eretz Yisrael and Russia as a metaphor for the transition from an agricultural society to a Western society; The Jewish-Arab conflict: the defensive ethos (until 1936); The Jewish-Arab conflict: the offensive ethos (1936-1948); The War of Independence – “Hirbet Hizah” as a metaphor; Israelis and the Holocaust: the perspective up to the Eichmann trial; Israelis and the Holocaust – the shift in the perspective after the 1960s.