It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl

An image of Theodor Herzl in It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl. Courtesy of Moriah Films.

It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl chronicles the life of Herzl as he becomes the modern-day founder of Zionism.

The title itself comes from the saying, “If you will it, it is no dream.” A Jewish state didn’t seem like a reality in his day but he paved the way for Jews to return home from Europe and elsewhere. Obviously, there were a number of roadblocks along the way but the tragic events of the Holocaust showed the world why there needed to be a Jewish state. I can go on and on about the reasons for Israel’s existence but #1 on the list is security from a tragic history of pogroms, etc. Israel is once again fighting for its very survival after Hamas breeched the borders and murdered 1200+ people and took another 200+ hostage.

One event in France would lead Herzl into founding modern-day Zionism. He had his detractors within the Jewish community, of course, but this would not stop him. Anyway, the one event is none other than the Dreyfus Affair. The Dreyfus scandal would not resolve itself until 1906 but by this point, Herzl was dead, having died young at 44 years old in 1904. His body would eventually be reburied on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. Without Herzl’s leadership to pave the way, Jews might never have made their way home to Eretz Yisrael. Finding the way back to Eretz Yisrael increased the likelihood of safety and security from the European Jew-hatred that led to pogroms and of course, the Holocaust.

Herzl was the unlikeliest of Jews to found modern-day Zionism. After all, he was assimilated and living comfortably as a journalist and playwright. But after Dreyfus, he took it upon himself. He would meet with no shortage of leaders, including a Sultan representing the Ottoman Empire but those talks went nowhere. Things would change almost two decades after his passing with the British taking control after World War I. While they initially issued the Balfour Declaration, they otherwise kept dragging the line. Ultimately, the UN would issue the UN Partition of 1947–accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs. Israel would declare its independence in 1948 as the British departed. What followed were five countries going to war with Israel in the War of Independence.

The film runs just over an hour and a half. Trank bases his script on original material by him and Rabbi Marvin Hier. Oscar-winning actor Christoph Waltz provides Herzl’s voice while Sir Ben Kingsley narrates. It is not as much of a talking head documentary. There are only three people sitting down on camera for the entire run time. The rest of the film draws on Herzl’s writings and archival images.

It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl does the job in providing the basics on Herzl’s life and the start of modern-day Zionism.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Richard Trank
NARRATOR: Sir Ben Kingsley
CAST: Christoph Waltz
FEATURING: President Shimon Peres, Arthur Cohn, Robert S. Wistrich

Multicom Entertainment Group released It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl in theaters on August 10, 2012. Grade: 3.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.