The Life of Theodor Herzl
It is No Dream
Review by Ross Anthony

With the relatively new nation of Israel at the seeming center of so many globally important events, who wouldn't want to know how it came to be? As Israel is a major component in the USA's foreign affairs and military decision making, individual Americans would do well to educate themselves on this modern piece of Middle Eastern history. This was the perspective with which I came to view the film.

How did Israel come to be? Is it a sovereign nation and/or a religious state? While primarily a biography of Theodor Herzl, this documentary sheds light on these questions.

At the tail end of the 1800's, Herzl, an educated writer/journalist, falls into the role of European marketer of the Zionist Movement. This is the story of how that happened to a rather random fellow with almost no Jewish upbringing. The filmmakers unwind that story quite slowly at first, but much like Herzl's commitment to the project, they're persistence begins to gather some weight, and like a snowball picking up mass as it rolls, the film just might engage viewers as Herzl wins followers and supporters.

The opening sequence, sans set up, comes off a little strong. Augmented by a musical score which waxes a tad too dramatic at times, this preamble to the documentary might get the film dismissed as fanatical nationalism. Which would be unfortunate, because "for the most part" the picture delivers its useful and educational content in a straightforward historical manner. That said, the documentary concludes as it begins, not-surprisingly with a strong pro-Israel bias. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the production. I learned a lot. And, I even found Herzl's story quite inspiring. I'd love to see a film that would make a great complement, but from the Palestinian point of view. There is still far more to learn and understand.

Also, while the film carefully describes the turning tides across Europe regarding these very early steps toward the Jewish nation we know as Israel, that careful detailed explanation pretty much ends with Herzl's death (which is 40+ years prior to the realization of his plan). Perhaps a "Part II" is in order?

Visually, the presentation is more like a slideshow than a juicy A/V presentation. There are no graphics, illustrations, or cute animations. Most of the pictures are sepia stills. But, after about 20 minutes of acclimation, the modest visuals, Kingsley's voice, and that constant determined pace, become somehow hypnotic. And I personally, really enjoyed (for historic value) the old B&W motion picture footage of horse & buggy Paris, Vienna, etc.

"It is no dream." Perhaps this cry worked great to inspire supporters for Herzl's Israel, but severed from context makes for a weak film title.

-- Books by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony --

  • It is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl. Copyright © 2012.
  • Directed by Richard Trank. Narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley. Moriah Films.

Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)

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Copyright © 1998-2019 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Friday, 07-Sep-2012 10:36:52 PDT