The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive Collection

Out of Evil

84 Minutes, 1950
Experimental Film
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Directed by: Joseph Krumgold
Cast: Ester Margalit , Nachum Buchman, Mordechai Ben-Zeev
Production:Leo Herrmann
Production Company:Urim Palestine Film Company production company
Photographer: Leroy Phelps, Alphonso Frenguelli
Language: English
| Subtitles not available

Out of Evil, whose production began in 1947, was shot during combat hiatuses throughout the War of Independence and was only released in 1950, well after the founding of the State of Israel. The plot is based on the similarly titled short film by director Helmar Lerski and puppet theatre director, Paul Levy. Owing to the short’s success, United Israel Appeal gave a lot of money (by pre-Israel film production standards) towards getting the feature-length version made which chronicles, at greater detail, how the Jewish people traded off the curse of nomadic exile with the blessing of Jewish pioneer-led communities in the fatherland.
The film, which is part of the Zionist realism genre, takes on the ethos of the pioneer in a far more nuanced way than the rest of its generic peers. It is made up of three parts, each of which was shot in a different style and aesthetic: a filmed musical puppet theatre presentation chronicling the biblical tale of Balaam; documentary footage featuring voiceover narration through which the director observes the state in the making, the struggle to get it across the finish line and to realise the Zionist vision; and a narrative fiction storyline focusing on Independence War combatant, Joseph.
Joseph Halochem, the apple of everyone’s eye at his kibbutz, is stationed at an outpost on Mount Scopus during the War of Independence. Whilst there, he recalls the story of his pioneer parents who had immigrated to Palestine in the 1920s, started a kibbutz, fell in love and had him – and later, found themselves caught up in an ideological clash with the local collective, as a result of which they decided to move to Germany. After losing both his parents in the Holocaust, Joseph moves back to Palestine, returns to the kibbutz, and takes part in the battles for Jerusalem.
Out of Evil made the official selection for the Venice Film Festival.

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