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London Critics Laud Habima for Portrayal of Pioneer Life

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The London press has accorded glowing reviews to “Sabra,” the Film Society’s picture which was filmed in Palestine and features members of the Habima, the National Theatre of Palestine.

Following is a particularly enthusiastic account of the film in the Manchester Guardian:

“In presenting ‘Sabra’ at the Tivoli the Film Society showed a work of extreme and unusual interest. The picture was made in Palestine and acted by members of the Habima, the National Theatre of Palestine, which was seen a few years ago in London. These factors alone suggested a film out of the ordinary.

“But the interest of ‘Sabra’ is more than that of the strange. It is sociological, for it brings to the screen for the first time the story of those Jewish pioneers who have returned to Palestine to build settlements in the desert.

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“The picture shows a group of settlers reaching the plot of desert allotted to them by the Palestine funds of the Jewish National Home. They are faced by a hostile Arab sheikh who controls the limited supply of water.

“He charges exorbitant prices, and the local Arabs are forced to submit until the dervishes proclaim that the new-comers will find water and supply it free. In the Jewish camp digging proceeds. There are casualties; a man dies, another goes mad, but the work goes on.

“Among the Arabs the Mohammedan feast of Nebbi-Moussa is held. The sheikh fears that he will lose his authority if the Jews can obtain their water elsewhere. He uses the feast as a means of whipping up the mob into attack on the Jews.

“In the camp the men are overcome by the heat. But the wives take a hand, and they strike water just as the raid begins. There would be massacre, but the water spouts up and brings peace between Arab and pioneer as well as fertility to the land.

“The urgent need for water runs through the film like a motive in a symphony, and the Jewish actors are worthy of the theme. They bring a new style of playing to the screen, acting with intense physical expression. Though today’s copy was not in the best condition, photography and cutting completed an achievement of power and purpose.

“The program was completed by a picture showing the making of Ford cars, and by two ‘shorts’ which explained the production of English and German talkies respectively.”

The “Makasid al-Falasifah” of the eleventh century Arab Ghazali had a great influence on Jewish thought in the Middle Ages.

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