An epic war film of 1960, 'Exodus' is an adaption of 1958 bestselling novel of the same name written by Leon Uris. Directed and produced by Otto Preminger, the movie was made by Alpha and Carlyle Productions, while the distribution was done by United Artists. Artists like Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Ralph Richardson, Peter Lawford, Lee J. Cobb and Sal Mineo starred in the film. The movie showcased some of the historical and fictional events pertaining to the emergence of the state of Israel as an independent nation in the year 1947-48. Characterized as a "Zionist epic", the film was said to have an enormous influence in evoking Zionism and an overwhelming support for Israel in the United States. However, the film stirred many controversies with its depiction of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and many commentators perceive the treatment of the subject matter to be have created the lasting impact on American conceptions (or misconceptions) of regional turmoil. A wonderful movie to watch on the occasion of Passover, here is the complete summary of the plot of the film.
The movie starts off at the Karaolos Internment in Cyprus where thousands of Jews -Holocaust survivors are being held by the British and are refrained from going to Palestine. Katherine "Kitty" Fremont (Eva Marie Saint) is an American nurse volunteer at the same camp. As the Jews wait anxiously for their liberation, Ari Ben Canaan (Paul Newman), a former captain in the Jewish Brigade of the British Army in WWII, acquires a cargo ship and manages to free some 611 Jewish inmates from the camp. While they embark on the ship to escape to Mandate Palestine, the ship is blockaded by the British in the harbor of Famagusta. The refugees go on a hunger strike, while Ari threatens to kill the refugees and blow up the ship. Helpless, the British succumb and allow the Exodus a safe passage.
Back in the camp, Kitty gets fond of Karen Hansen (Jill Haworth), a young Danish-Jewish girl who got separated from her father during the war. She hopes to travel America, along with Kitty, where she plans to start afresh. Meanwhile, the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states is on its high. Karen's young beau Dov Landau (Sal Mineo) joins the Irgun, a radical Zionist underground network. However, he is caught by the police, but is freed. He meets the members of the real Irgun. He is caught by Ari's uncle Akiva (David Opatoshu) who forces him to confess his identity as a Sonderkommando in Auschwitz and being raped by the Nazis. Akiva is disowned by Ari's father, Barak (Lee J. Cobb), head of the mainstream Jewish Agency, attempting to create a separate Jewish state.
The King David Hotel is bombarded causing dozens of fatalities and a consequent arrest of Akiva. Karen's father is found, but since he is suffering from clinical depression, he fails to recognize his daughter. Karen moves to live at Gan Dafna, a fictional Jewish kibbutz near Mount Tabor where Ari was raised. Kitty and Ari fall for each other. Dov escapes from the soldiers, but returns to find the route to help escape the prisoners. Along with Akiva, hundreds are set free. Akiva is shot dead by the British soldiers and Ari too is severely wounded. He moves to Abu Yesha, an Arab village where his childhood friend, Taha is the mukhtar. Kitty enters and treats his wounds. The Arab nationals come to know about the Jews' stay in Gan Dafna. Ordered by Mohammad Amin Al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the soldiers plan to kill all the villagers.
Taha informs Ari about this in advance and hence, Ari successfully manages to flee with the kids from the town on the same night. Karen and Dov meet and confess their love. Dov assures her of marrying her one day. On her journey to Gan Dafna, Karen is killed by Arab militiamen. Her body is found by Dov in the morning. The same day, Taha too is killed by Arab Extremists and hung in his village with a Star of David symbol carved on his body. While burying Karen and Taha, Ari swears that the Jews and Arabs will reside side by side someday in future and will share the place in peace and harmony. The movie ends with Ari, Kitty and a Palmach contingent loading up in trucks and heading towards the battle.
The movie Exodus is the delineation of the struggle and pain that the Jews had to endure in establishing an independent state for themselves. Therefore, watching this movie will be a fine way to commemorate those sacrifices made in the past in its accomplishment.
'Exodus' is the story of the founding of the Israel as an independent nation. Check out this article to know the plot summary of the movie 'Exodus'.