Monday 15 August 2022
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Israeli Early Cinema

In memory of Jospeh Halachmi (1933-2019), Founder & Film historian

oded hanodedIn commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Hebrew film, the Philatelic Service issued a series at stamps. Dedicated to three Hebrew films, each one being a landmark in the Hebrew cinema, both silent and sound: "Judah Liberated", the first Hebrew film; "Oded the Wanderer" ("Oded Hanoded"), the first full-length Hebrew feature film; and "This is the Land", the first Hebrew "talkie".

In 1899, the Zionist Movement started putting forward ideas for making propaganda turns on the Land at Israel. In 1911 the first Zionist turn was shot in Israel. The creator, an English Jew by the name at Murray Rosenberg, was able to show scenes at the country to the Tenth Zionist Congress in Basel. Rosenberg's film was one at a few made during Turkish rule. Shot by foreigners who came tram abroad, none at these turns was considered a "Hebrew turn" as they lacked the tour ingredients that would have made them - according to the definition at those days - "Hebrew Cinema": Hebrew producers, Hebrew plot, Hebrew language, and Hebrew studio.

The dream at making Hebrew films began to be realised in 1912 at the Bezalel School at Art in Jerusalem. Two years later one at the founders of Tel Aviv, Akiva Weiss, tried to establish a Hebrew cinema studio called "Ora Chadasha - New Light". In those days films were silent; nevertheless Hebrew played a major role in the "Hebrew Cinema". Meir Gur-Aryeh, the Bezalel artist, described it as follows: "The sub-titles will light up the darkness with Hebrew letters".

This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary at Hebrew thin. It s reckoned tram when shooting began an the first Hebrew film, "Judah Liberated". In commemoration of this anniversary the Philatelic Service is issuing a series at stamps. The series s dedicated to three Hebrew films, each one being a landmark in the Hebrew cinema, both silent and sound: "Judah Liberated", the first Hebrew film; "Oded the Wanderer" ("Oded Hanoded"), the first full-length Hebrew feature film; and "This is the Land", the first Hebrew "talkie". At the bottom of the tab appears the date the film in question was first screened.

The First Hebrew Film

"Judah Released" was produced and shot in 1917 by Yaacov Ben-Dov. Yaacov Ben-Dov (Lassoutra) was a member of the second wave of immigration to the country, the Second Aliyah. He reached Eretz Israel in 1907, having completed his studies in the Art Academy in Odessa, and joined the founders of "Bezalel" and set up the school's photography department. He earned a living as a stills photographer and by producing picture postcards showing landscapes of the country. In 1912 he tried to obtain the equipment and knowledge for making a silent movie, and was party to the discussions held in Bezalel on setting up a film industry. Only at the end of 1917 did Ben-Dov succeed in fulfilling his dream, when he obtained a "cinematographic machine". With this camera he shot the first scene in his film: "The British army entering Jerusalem led by General Allenby, on Chanukah 5678, 11th December 1917".

The film "Judah Released" documents 34 incidents that occurred during the first year of O.E.T.A., British military rule. The premier was on the first anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem. Yaacov Ben-Dov continued to advertise the film for a long time in the newspapers "Haaretz" and "Doar Hayom".

The film was two hours long. Only a few shots of the film have remained, these being scenes that have been copied onto other films which have been preserved. On the stamp appears the 17th segment in Part II, depicting "The Reception of the Liberator of the Holy Land, General Allenby, by the Jews of Jerusalem, Rabbis, Zionist leaders, and members of the Maccabi Youth Movement, 13th Sivan 5678". (Dr. Chaim Weizmann is standing next to General Allenby).

The First Hebrew Feature Film

For a long time, creating a Hebrew feature film was no more than a dream, and everyone who tried, failed miserably. In the twenties, the Jewish National Fund asked a number of writers in the country to write film scripts. But in the end they were never produced. In 1927 Natan Axeirod and Yerushalayim Segal tried to make a film called "The Pioneer" ("Hachlutz"), but the production was never completed. Only in 1932 was the dream realised, when two full-length feature films were completed. One of these was directed by Alexander Ford, the Pole, filmed in Eretz Israel with "Habimah" actors, and processed and edited in Warsaw. The second film, "Oded the Wanderer", was a purely Hebrew enterprise. The director was Chaim Halachmi (1902-1979), the "first Hebrew film director". The cameraman was Natan Axelrod (1905-1987) the indefatigable pioneer of the Hebrew film.

The film is based on a children's story by Zvi Liebermann. It describes the adventures of Oded, a dreamer, who gets lost on a class outing. After a search, he is found and returns home safely. Its premier was on Chanukah, 29th December 1932 at the Eden cinema in Tel Aviv.

The stamp features several of the boys who appear in the film, amongst them "Oded the Wanderer". The actors names are: Shimon Pevzner, Michael Kuinger and Moshe Tawill.

The First Hebrew Talkie

In the years 1933-1935 four Hebrew talkies/musicals were produced The first attempt by the O.F.C. company to make a film based on Avigdor Hameiri's book "Tnuva" was not completed. Baruch Agadafi and his partners bought their modern sound equipment from O.F.C. and produced a film based on another script of Avigdor Hameiri, "This is the Land". The turn combines documentary film with acted scenes and the whole is artistically edited, It depicts fifty years of pioneering settlement in Eretz Israel starting with the arrival of the "Biluim", the first pioneering movement.

Baruch Agadati, a Bezalel student, was a very talented film maker. He was famous as a dancer as well as an artist. He was one of the outstanding personalities who appeared in the Purim parties which took place in "Little Tel Aviv". In 1930 Agadati set up the "Aga-Film" company, and strove to get into the larger world of cinema. In this he succeeded in beating his cOmpetitors; Helmar Lerski, director of the film "Avoda", and Yehudah Leman, director of the film "Land of Promise". The premier of "This is the Land" was held in the Mograbi cinema in Tel Aviv on 23rd February 1935. Amongst the actors taking part in the film were Shmuel Rodenski and Moshe Hurgel (both seen on the stamp), Rafael Kalatzkin. Meir Teomi, Bezalel London, Yosef Goland and Channa Kipnis.


Source: Boeleim website