(photo credit: Courtesy)
LAND OF GENESIS (ISR) Directed by Moshe Alpert.
by Efraim Sidon and Idit Hacamovitch. Hebrew title: Eretz Breisheet. 89
minutes. In Hebrew, check with theaters about subtitle information.
I was growing up, Disney was the studio that concentrated on nature
films for children. They featured breathtaking photography and sometimes
inane voiceovers (“Now, the tarantula welcomes his lady friend”). But I
have to admit, I loved every minute. Of course, in those days there
were a couple of taboos in these movies. Nothing too terrible would
happen to any cute critter we had gotten to know and you never really
saw the animals, ahem, mating.
In recent years, Disney has
concentrated on inane television for ‘tweens, but a whole genre of
brilliant nature films has developed around the world, including BBC’s
Planet Earth and such films as March of the Penguins and Deep Blue.
Israeli films have advanced in the past decade so much that they can now
compete on a purely technical level with all but the most expensive
Hollywood productions, so it was only natural that there would
eventually be an Israeli nature film.
Land of Genesis is a wonderful film that I hope will be the first of
many to be made here. Its gimmick is that it throws a couple of Bible
quotes into the mix, but its real purpose is not theology or preaching,
but simply to show a side of nature that humans rarely get to see, and
to present it with the most beautiful images possible.
Land of Genesis was directed by Moshe Alpert, an award-winning
cinematographer who has spent much of the last 30 years filming wildlife
in Israel. For the film he has used advanced camera techniques that
allow closer access to animals, clearer panoramic views, and sharper
focus in darkness, to great effect.
Israel may be a small country, but its geography is extremely varied and
it is home to a great variety of species. The landscapes filmed here
may be places you have visited, but you’ve never caught more than a
glimpse of the animals shown here living their lives.
The film goes season by season, and divides itself among several groups
of animals: ibex in the Judean desert, jungle cats on the shores of the
Kinneret, wolves in the Golan Heights, and migrating birds throughout
There are also cameos by various other animals, including porcupines and
snakes. The photography is breathtaking and some gorgeous images linger
after the film’s end, of a flock of birds flying at sunset, jungle cats
swimming in the azure water of the Sea of Galilee, wolf cubs learning
to play and hunt, and ibex kids stumbling down a hillside for the first
The haunting, Middle Eastern-style background music is by Uri Ophir, and
is far more effective than the cloying tunes written and sung by Noa.
The commentary harkens back to that Disney era of anthropomorphizing the
animals. For example, all the creatures are given names, though it’s
hard to believe the male ibex who head-butts all his rivals into
submission would truly be called Rotem – how about Uzi? But these are
minor reservations. This is simply a beautiful celebration of the
richness of the animal world.
Parents should be warned: This isn’t your grandparents’ Disney universe
where cute animals don’t die. There are quite a few graphic scenes of
animals feeding on their prey, and these may upset younger kids. There
is also a fair amount about the reproductive habits of the animals, and,
again, unlike in the old Disney flicks, here, your children will learn
where the babies come from.
Only you know your kids and what will disturb them (and you). But I very
much recommend the film for children and it will make you want to leave
the theater and take them straight for a hike.