[critical] Va, Vis Et Deviens

In 1984, thousands of Africans from 26 countries hit by the famine, find themselves in camps in Sudan. At the initiative of Israel and the United States, a broad action is taken to bring thousands of ethiopian Jews to Israel.

A christian mother pushes her son of nine years to declare himself jewish in order to save him from famine and death. The child arrives in the Holy Land. Declared an orphan, he is adopted by a French family sephardic living in Tel-Aviv. He grew up with the fear that one discovers his double secret and lie : neither jew, nor an orphan, only black. He will discover love, western culture, the jewish experience but also the racism and the war in the occupied territories.

Author’s Note


Release Date : march 30, 2005

Directed by Radu Mihaileanu

Film French

With Yaël Abecassis, Roschdy Zem, Moshe Agazai

Duration : 2h20min

Trailer :

Film to frame a complex story, that of the exodus of ethiopian jews on the background of the israeli-palestinian conflict, Va, Vis Et Deviens is not less easy of access by means of a talented director, Radu Mihaileanu (The Concert). Moreover, two years after the release of the film, a documentary by the same director could be seen : Operation Moses, in the name of the transaction defined by this clandestine transfer.

Little history lesson before any thing. This operation was, during the terrible famine of 1984, with transfer of the jews of Ethiopia (falashas) from Sudan to the state of Israel. At the head of this exodus, the Idf (the israeli army), the C. I. A., the United States embassy in Khartoum (capital of Sudan), as well as mercenaries and military forces of Sudan. We consider this to be more than 4,000 the number of deaths that begat this operation.

The film is, as its title suggests, in 3 parts : “Go”, the moment when the mother, a christian, ordered his son to join the army soldiers to save him from this terrible situation, and become a jew in spite of himself. “Screws”, his period of a boy and then a teenager in a jewish family and his learning. “Becoming”, where how after having spent his entire life lying on his condition and on his beliefs, he will become a young man all that was honorable and of good family.

The transition between each of its steps is done smoothly. The scenes follow peacefully, not without a certain emotion, which is felt throughout the film. A torn, mixed of anger and sadness for this young Shlomo, who would give the moon so that he can reunite with this mother that he has waited too long. The 3 actors portraying these 3 phases of the life of Shlomo are glaring truth. The mother also, in spite of that we see very little in the film, happens to get an emotion that happens all too rarely in cinema. The eyes, the expression there are no doubt many.

It is therefore Impossible that all the awards won by the film are acquired by mistake or by chance, there is indeed a background, something that pushes us to love it and appreciate it for what it is, a near-masterpiece.

The education of Shlomo is trying. He must face tense inter-religious and inter-racial in spite of all the hard work that he puts into his learning of this new life that he was offered. Tensions within his own adoptive family, that will disappear fairly quickly, and then of the tensions in his school and with his friends, who make us aware of all the stupidity that creates this conflict, which has lasted too long.

The interpretations of Roschdy Zem, the adoptive father, and especially that of Yael Abecassis, this “mother of relief”, the mother who would do absolutely anything for his son – the scene where she kisses and licks the face of Shlomo demonstrates fully these statements are more than striking.

Shlomo comes out with honors, ascending the steps of the social ladder that never gave him any boost to put a not in front of the other. It is rebellious, sometimes, doesn’t include any from the first moments, but remains focused on his goal : find his mother. This mother who has given him the opportunity to live this life that is not so bad at the bottom. Much less bad than it is to live there, somewhere in a refugee camp in Sudan.

He will learn the life, the love and his setbacks, but also the family. Although it is a family adoption, she is there, present at every moment of his life. Proof of this are the scenes of the conversion with his father or that of the outstretched hand of her sister.

He must speak here of the technique. This film is not a special effects film or an action film or thriller. We forget easily that there may be problems mounting or framing at times, the key is really this torrent of emotions that engulf us in waves throughout the film. A movie “true” to a story just as authentic and compelling. It is therefore Impossible that all the awards won by the film – among other things, Grand Prize for Best Screenwriter, César for the Best Original Screenplay, Swan d’or for Best Film at Copenhagen – to be acquired by error or by chance, there is indeed a background, something that pushes us to love it and appreciate it for what it is, a near-masterpiece.

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