The Kennedy Leigh Collection


50 Minutes, 1935
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Directed by: Helmar Lerski
Production:Paul Boroschek
Production Company:Palestine Pictures Ltd
Photographer: Helmar Lerski
Original Music: Paul Dessau
Languages: Hebrew, Music
| Subtitles not available

Helmer Lerski’s 1935 documentary, one of Zionist cinema’s most impressive and prominent pieces of propaganda triumph, chronicles the Diaspora Jew’s arrival at his ancestral home, and the birth of the “New Jew” in the Land of Israel. Pioneering Zionist labour – be it physical or psychological – is a fundamental, primary ethos at the very heart of the New Jew’s image.
Before immigrating to then-Palestine in the early 1930s, Helmar Lerski had already established a reputation for himself as a prominent photographer and cinematographer in his native Germany. He even shot several of the films that would become the cornerstones of German Expressionist Cinema, including Paul Lenny’s WAX DOLL CABINET. Lerski was one of Fritz Lang’s team of five cinematographers who had worked on his iconic film, METROPOLIS.
WORK, which treads the fine line between documentary and fiction, articulates Zionism’s official set of values, however, it breaks from the majority of local films made at the time with its abstract aesthetics, showcasing avant-garde cinema influences and in particular, echoes of Soviet Montage films. The original film score was penned by modernist composer Paul Dessau (who had worked with Brecht, among others) and is considered a milestone in the field of Israeli film scoring.

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