Film Review : Live and Become
The Israeli government began a rescue operation called Operation Moses in 1984. Its purpose was to assist black Ethiopian Jews, known as Falasha or Habashim, immigrating into Israel, to help them avoid the ravages of famine and civil war in their homeland.
Live and Become is a beautifully filmed movie set in the eighties depicting the life of one eight-year-old Ethiopian boy who is sent by his mother to a group of Falasha and told: "Go. Live. Become." Together with other Ethiopian Jews, he is flown from the destitution of a Sudanese refugee camp to the comfort of Israel and his religious homeland, Jerusalem.
Written and directed by Radu Mihaileanu, the movie, in French and Hebrew with English subtitles, explores the conflicts and victories of the French speaking Africian boy becoming a man in a world filled with physical, emotional, and religious confusion.
He is adopted by a self-described leftist family, not particularly religious, but who are gracious and understanding. He learns to speak Hebrew, and receives a religious education along with his daily schooling. He is bar mitzvahed, yet is never fully accepted by segments of the community as Jewish. His attempts to deal with the lies created for him, and the constant memories of his mother form the basis for the conflicts that make up his childhood struggles.
As he becomes a man, a love interest and his desire to find his mother add an interesting counter-balance to his medical studies in Paris.
The film shows facets of a mixed Israeli society often shaped by conservative ideology that is all too commonplace around the globe. It is a moving story that challenges our preconceptions about race, religion, and nationality.