‘Colliding Dreams’: Zionism history covers lots of ground

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Orthodox Jews worship in a synagogue in Bnei Brek, Israel, in a scene from “Colliding Dreams.” | Provided photo

A 134-minute documentary about the history of Zionism doesn’t exactly sound like prime Saturday-night viewing. And indeed, “Colliding Dreams” can be heavy going at times, like making it through a sleepy college lecture.

Directors Joseph Dorman and Oren Rudavsky populate the film with talking heads who cover both sides of the issue, and it feels balanced as it examines the creation of the State of Israel and the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During a man-on-the-street interview in Jerusalem on Independence Day, one man describes it not as a conflict but as “two brothers who live in one house.”

It’s obviously a big subject (the movie spans more than 100 years and is chaptered, like a book). It also creates a tricky dilemma. The film feels overlong and a bit repetitious, but it’s obviously a complex subject that deserves a thought-out treatment. Maybe a miniseries on public television would be the answer.

The filmmakers gather some insightful interviews. Hebrew University professor Gabi Taub recounts seeing footage of a woman who cried at the end of the war after seeing signs written in Hebrew.  “I never saw Hebrew letters that size,” he reports her saying. “Hebrew letters are something you hide.” Even though the storytelling is secondhand, those kind of human moments are when the film comes to life.

★★★

A documentary directed by Joseph Dorman and Oren Rudavsky. Running time: 134 minutes. No MPAA rating. Opens Friday at the Music Box Theatre and Landmark Renaissance in Highland Park.

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