2014-04-06 13:28:18 - Immersive 3D IMAX movie debuts to enthusiastic response in Sydney's Darling Harbor theatr, which boasts the largest IMAX screen in the world
Sydney, April 6 - "Jerusalem the Movie," a daring and ambitious production utilizing the latest in the state of the art 3D IMAX technology, had its debut in Sydney yesterday to a spellbound audience.
For the 45-minute duration of the film, the specially invited audience, which included representatives of various media outlets in Sydney, sat spellbound as the narrator, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch, walked them through the cobblestoned streets of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The movie, written and directed by Daniel Ferguson, who also co-produced it along with Taran Davies and George Duffield, presents an immersive experience that not only entertains but also enthralls and uplifts, according to Arthur Hagopian, former AAP-Reuters journalist and foreign correspondent, who was invited
to act as consultant for the film.
Speaking before yesterday's select audience, Hagopian noted that the film breaks new ground with its stunning impact and penetrating probe.
"In a daring and ambitious initiative, [and a lot of chutzpah], utilizing the latest state of the art technology in 3D IMAX, Jerusalem the Movie has broken new ground with its stunning visual impact and its penetrating probe, presenting us with an immersive experience that is not only bound to entertain, but enthrall and uplift as well," he said.
This "city of gold" ["yerushalaym shel zahav" as sung by the late Israeli singer Ofra Haza] and "flower of cities" ["zahrat ul madaen" as depicted by Lebanon's Fayrooz in Hebrew], is "a fount of spiritual rejuvenation and regeneration for a billion people: Christians, Jews, Moslems."
"Once an unremarkable provincial town on the map of Judea, Jerusalem has metamorphosed into a most endearing, most hallowed and most problematic spot on earth," he told the viewers.
"Hundreds of books have been written, scores of films spun out about it," a vast expenditure of ink and celluloid, "each in its way attempting to uncover one more layer of the mystery and enigma that shroud Jerusalem, and in the process helping us understand what makes Jerusalem tick, " he said.
He pointed out that "Jerusalem the Movie" is a total departure from the conventional track these productions have followed.
"With this film, the first time ever anyone has been allowed to fly and film over Jerusalem in half a century, we venture beneath the surface of the multifaceted fabric of Jerusalem," he said.
The film purposefully eschews political controversies and armchair travelogues, instead, "we decided to tap into the very core of Jerusalem's unique ambience, in our quest to highlight the many points of intersection among the world’s three great monotheistic religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism."
"For those who know Jerusalem, and undoubtedly love it (for who does not love Jerusalem?), the film will assuredly reinforce your love and enhance your knowledge.
"For those who know Jerusalem only in passing, this movie will evoke familiar sights and feelings, stirring memories, mostly fond ones, I hope, and re-ignite your curiosity.
"For those who have never been there, this could be a timely and intriguing introduction, whetting your appetite for a closer look at this mysterious historic and spiritual milestone," he said.
He reminded his listeners that as they followed the camera and treaded the cobblestones of the twisted alleys of the Old City, they would have to be wary, for "every tile has a tale to tell."
"They talk to you of grandeur and glory, of terror and bloodshed, but also of triumph and jubilation."
"We have captured some of those tales but there are so many more out there waiting to be told," confiding that there was still enough footage left over on the cutting floor for three or four more films.
And they are such fascinating stories, featuring a kaleidoscope of some of the most colorful people in the world: the Armenians who gave the city its first printing press and photographic studio, the Assyrians who helped rescue the Dead Sea Scrolls from oblivion, and who still speak the language of Jesus, the Ethiopians who celebrate Easter dancing away the night in a dazzling array of technicolor umbrellas, the Moslem Nusseibeh and Judeh families who control the keys to the gate of the Holy Sepulcher, Christendom’s most important edifice, the Jewish calligraphers who make it a career to pen exquisite scrolls and epistles."
A native-born Jerusalemite, Hagopian reassured the audience that as one walks the streets of Jerusalem, in the footsteps of the prophets, one has "an uncanny feeling of familiarity among this gregarious populace. You don’t feel like a stranger at all: they won’t let you, the brash, uninhibited Israelis and the embarrassingly hospitable Arabs."
"Guided by noted archaeologist Jodi Magness and the three young protagonists, each from a different culture, the film will soar with you over the fortress of Masada, and the desolate Greek convent near Jericho, as it skips over the waters of the River Jordan. We pause for a minute at the foot of the blocked up double Gates of Mercy from where the Messiah is expected to enter Jerusalem at the end of the Days. We join the multitudes praying at the Barkat Kohanim [priestly blessing] ceremony at the Western Wall, and the crowds genuflecting at the Al Aqsa mosque by the Dome of the Rock. A heartbeat away, the Christians are celebrating the euphoric Holy Fire Saturday at the Holy Sepulcher."
"While in the market of the spice merchants, an old sheikh is ladling out a salubrious concoction of herbs and spices to a bemused backpacker, against a background of pealing church bells."
The audience reaction, as conveyed to Hagopian, was a universal "wow."
"I can't wait to get there," one viewer enthused. While another was so excited by the immersive excursion into the souks of the Old City, he confessed he was tempted to reach out and pluck one of the round bagels ["ka'ek"] on the tray carried on the head of a young Arab peddler.
The film is scheduled to be released for public viewing in Sydney on April 10.