In the Name of Hollywood

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By: Sinead Dalton

If I was to put to you the words ‘Hollywood and The Bible’, what would your first reaction be? Would you think of the goodness and faith immersed in the Bible versus the heroic but also sexualised and scandalous world of Hollywood? Or would the rolls be reversed? Would you see this Holy Book as strict and old fashioned, trying to put a halt on an ever moving and diverse world?

While it can be a complex and somewhat sensitive issue, nowadays you generally don’t associate one with the other.  To imagine the likes of Gerald Butler playing the part of the devout Moses or for Scarlett Johansson as the somewhat seductive character of Eve, almost sounds farfetched. However the Bible has stemmed some of Hollywood’s greatest and most popular films.

For St. Kilda, February was a month of cultural exploration, discovery of musical talent and comedy genius, but there was also a hidden side of life that was immersed in the festivities. On Sunday the 3rd of February the Jewish Museum, located on Alma Street opened its doors to an exhibition with a difference. Epic; 100 years of Film and the Bible brought us right back to where it all began; that is for Hollywood I mean. For the world of movies, the Bible has been a true inspiration. However, it was not its spiritual wisdom or moral guidance it seeked but more for its cunning plots, dark passion and tales of deceit.

The 20th Century gave birth to some of the world’s greatest actors but it was these powerful biblical stories that contributed to their success. Such actors as Richard Harris who played the fiery tempered Cain, in La Bibbia (1966), Peter O’ Toole who on the part of the three angels in Bible: In the Beginning (1966) and furthermore Charlton Heston was nominated for a Golden Globe award for his part as Moses in the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments. While some of the tales were slightly altered for the captivation of the audience The Ten Commandments, directed by Cecil B. DeMille, was one of the most successful films of its time, grossing over $65million at the US Box office, being in the same league as all-time favourite Gone with the Wind. The museums presentation was taken from the personal collection of Father Michael Morris and immerses you in a side if the Bible that both captivates and intrigues.

While it may be the bright lights of Hollywood that attract us, it also highlights the depth and huge influence of the Jewish faith. The first section of the museum explores Hollywood and the other discovers a side that many maybe unaware of. For centuries the Jewish religion has suffered at the hands of many. From their expulsion from England and France in the 13th Century to the horrific and sadistic occurrences of World War II and the Holocaust, to this day their faith has remained a pillar of strength; something not only to be recognised but also be admired.

Over the centuries, their culture has settled in many parts of the world and for over 200 years the Jewish people have helped build a strong community here. Today, stereotypical views can sometimes be held when it comes to different cultures, races, religions but often things are not always as they seem. Walking through the halls of this small museum you discover its beliefs and traditions.  So what makes this experience stand out? Well apart from the beliefs and history of this religion there was one particular section that catches the eye. Featured on one of the walls were cards written by people of the Jewish community explaining why their families had travelled to Australia. What may strike you the most about this was that the majority of them were searching for a better life, for a segment of happiness; somewhere they could call home.

Speaking with the supervisor of the museum, Sandra Saks spoke of the passion that is immersed in this faith and how often it is over shadowed; “we are Jewish, but it is because of the persecution, the exile you become more than that….we are trying to be a window to the community.” It can be said that a curious mind can feed a curious soul and behind the glamour and the glitz lies a community that while time has been inflicted with pain, for centuries still press on. If you are interested in life, culture history or just want to explore, this is definitely an interesting find and may allow you to view life in a different light.

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