A Tale of Love and Darkness

Giovanni Arledler, SJ

 Giovanni Arledler, SJ / Culture / 20 September 2018

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Between April 20 and 22, 2018, the news broke that the Genesis, a sort of Israeli Nobel Prize, was being awarded to the actress Natalie Portman. Her swift response came through an official spokesperson: she felt it was necessary to refuse the prize since “the recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her,” an unmistakable reference to the violent and bloody episodes in the Gaza Strip. There were no other developments and it all finished there.

To those who follow more attentively political and cultural matters in the state of Israel, this minor incident nevertheless brought to mind two factors that were important for different reasons: Natalie Portman’s debut film as a director, and the Amos Oz novel, A Tale of Love and Darkness, which is the basis of the film’s screenplay.[1]

 A worthwhile film

In the United States – the adopted country of Natalie Portman who was born in Jerusalem on June 9, 1981, and whose real surname is Hershlag – A Tale of Love and Darkness was released in 2015, and was even presented at Cannes. In Italy it appeared after two years through the courage of a small distribution company, Cesare Fragnelli’s Altre Storie. The Italian DVD did not have much success, despite it being accompanied by a new edition of the novel in Feltrinelli’s Universale Economia series.

Not even the image of Portman on the posters and the cover of the DVD aroused much interest: this is the fate of many films that are not designed to attract a ready-made audience. Moreover, religious issues in films have never been among the most popular, and A Tale of Love and Darkness, given in the Italian version the banal title Sognare è vivere (To Dream is to Live) was thought only to concern the Jewish people. There have been so many dramas recently with a similar focus, exploring themes beyond the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during the Second World War.

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