By Laura Seymour
I love this time of the year — not for the holidays but for the movies. Filmmakers try to get the best blockbusters out, or at least something, for us to do on Christmas. Two new movies have a Jewish connection: “Exodus” and “Paddington Bear.”
Sadly, I have heard that “Exodus” is not great (haven’t seen it yet and a bad review doesn’t keep me from seeing movies). Apparently, the plot and the acting are questionable and controversy surrounds God’s depiction as a moody and demanding child. I will go to any Biblical movie just to see the commentary and, yes, a movie is commentary. It is how the writer, director, producer, actors, etc. view the story. Is God moody? I can see that interpretation. Demanding? Definitely! The challenge is to go with an open mind and a desire to learn. Charlton Heston may not need to worry about being replaced, but that older version left us with some questions as well!
Now to “Paddington Bear.” The previews draw us in, and it appears to be a great family film. I hope children will see the movie and rush home to read the books! The Jewish connection, I got from Tablet Magazine. Michael Bond, the author, said that he received his inspiration from the Jewish evacuee children he remembered seeing in the train stations of London during the Kindertransport of the late 1930s. He is quoted in The Guardian saying, “They all had a label round their neck with their name and address on and a little case or package containing all their treasured possessions. So Paddington, in a sense, was a refugee, and I do think that there’s no sadder sight than refugees.” In the books, you also meet Mr. Gruber who fled Nazi-occupied Europe and the xenophobic neighbor, Mr. Curry, who is intolerant and foul tempered and definitely an unsympathetic character.
I cannot wait to see how this plays out in the movie, but the timing is perfect. With racism and xenophobia on our minds, a little bear who is concerned with injustice is just what we need. Paddington says, “In London nobody is the same, which means everyone fits in.” A very important message for all ages!
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.