Despite the expense and the long travel time, most people consider Israel a place they’d love to visit. The historical significance of the country is enough to woo most anyone, regardless of cultural or religious backgrounds. It’s no surprise, then, that National Geographic would find Jerusalem worthy of its newest IMAX short film, simply titled “Jerusalem.”
With over 5,000 years of history to cover in the 45-minute film, “Jerusalem” took writer/director Daniel Ferguson and his crew five years and 15 trips to the holy city to complete. The film captures some of the most impressive city views and unique footage to ever appear on screen. It took nearly three years of wrestling with the Israeli government to even receive permission to fly over Jerusalem (a strict no-fly zone) in order to take panoramic shots of the city from above.
Narrated by British TV and film star Benedict Cumberbatch, “Jerusalem” works its way from the broader significance of the city throughout history, then narrows to life within the walls of the Old City. The film illustrates how this land, comprised of less than a square mile, has been the cradle of civilization and held up as the holiest place in the world for the vast majority of the religious population on earth.
The film follows three young women of the same age — Jewish, Muslim and Christian and virtually indistinguishable in ethnicity — living in Jerusalem. The personal stories of these girls, interwoven with the historical, scientific and religious story the city has told over thousands of years creates an intimacy that is second only to running your hands along the stones of Damascus Gate.
“Jerusalem” does not attempt to connect to the cultural struggles, study the socio-political reality of the country as a whole, or give an in-depth historical account of the city. Rather, for anyone who has been to Jerusalem, in 45 minutes the film manages to recreate a slice of that vibration, that indescribable feeling that washes over you upon approaching the Western Wall for the first time. For those who have never been, it certainly does a better job than your typical film from the Israel Ministry of Tourism. Though the goose bumps are surely IMAX-specific. On the small screen this film would lose much of its allure.
Describing Jerusalem through anecdotes does not to do justice. See “Jerusalem” and let National Geographic capture its essence for you.