Exodus (1960) is a classic film depicting the establishment of Israel and the immediate collapse of the area into Israeli-Arab fighting. It begins on Cyprus where the British are trying to hold Jews from Europe from entering Palestine, as it was known. The British are stretched at the end of their Empire Period. World War II has exhausted them. They are left in control of Palestine by the Sykes-Picot Agreement and seizures made at the end of World War I. All they really want is out of this situation. They no longer have the resources to continue their World role.
On Cyprus, Ari Ben Canaan (Paul Newman) meets American nurse Kitty Fremont (Eva Marie Saint), and then engineers the takeover of a ship of immigrants. Slyly leading their escape from an internment camp, the Jewish group boards the ship only to find the British will not allow them to leave port. Following a hunger strike to embarrass the British into letting them go to Israel, they are so released. Arriving in Israel one views a typical Kibbutz setting. The Kibbutz is a settlement form intended to place Jewish immigrants in farm settings where those with skills and no funds could work with others in creating a farm community. As the United Nations debates the fate of Palestine and the new Israeli state, you get to observe the fighting of the three sides over this area.
IMDb lists the filming sites as Acre, Israel; Famagusta, Cyprus; and Jerusalem, Israel. It is not a studio set film, it uses the real sites. This authenticity is important in making it a geographically significant film. It would have been easy to use Southern California locations which share the Mediterranean climate zone’s features.
The view of Cyprus is limited. The ship and dock area dominates, but some driving around by the characters gives you some sense of the Mediterranean nature of Cyprus.
As the action shifts to Israel, Jerusalem and Acre alternate as sites. The city has old buildings. This is its nature at this time. The viewer is given a clear picture of older stone building. The area is crowded and an odd interconnectivity of buildings is presented. For example, one can escape capture running from roof top to roof top and up and down.
Acre is the site of the kibbutz and school. It is dry with scrub forest and plantings. The landscape is rough hills. A great deal of exposed stone is shown. It has the just off the desert sense to it.
Crops will grow here. Barack Ben Canaan (Leo J. Cobb) talks to the migrants of oranges so large that “five make a dozen.” These are still a part of international markets as Haifa oranges.
While not emphasized, the famous social structure of the kibbutz is hinted at. The large number of children are herded together. Older children and all Israel’s are ready to do their part in the settlement effort. Note how the children are always in a group. This was for protection, even if they had parents. Questions have arisen over the years as to whether this communalism resulted in some toughing of the personalities resulting in some lingering person damage to some.
A great film that brings the Israeli side to the forefront. The readiness of some to bring all this in peace is met by the unwillingness of others to join that effort. We all know how this has gone.
IMDb. 1990-2015. Exodus (1960) Filming Sites. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053804/locations?ref_=tt_dt_dt