I watched it last night. It was a good Netflix movie. I agree with others that Chris owned what he was given to work with. It's a complex tale and I felt heartbroken for the refugees. I'm a social worker by profession. And experienced a heartbreaking event first hand with people trying to live a better life in a different country. I was forever changed by what I experienced. I loved that his team risked so much to help others have a better, safer life. This world needs more love for one another.
I saw this movie. The film didn't show me enough tension. Characters such as Ari are interesting. The story is complete but tastes like a cup of water? People like to compare this with Argo, but I think the two film just looks similar in material. Argo is with less hostages and occurred during short time. It is a little easier to extract the key point and make a film. And Red Sea happened with thousands of refugees, dozens of missions in several years. So I think film makers should focus on what happened in the hotel day and night, choose one typical mission as pointcut. Director should add merits in this story.
ah, bob. so that was what that was about. well, you're a bigger person than me. i would have spent way too much time arguing with them.
back when endgame publicity was picking up steam, i remember finding the term "chris evans canceled" trending. i thought then about putting my two cents onto the board, but i didn't want poke the hornet's nest, so to speak. anyhoo, might as well now.
firstly, i do think that a lot of these fans who feel negatively about this misread his politics, which i think can politely be summarized by saying, "he's a masshole." massachusetts being the home of the kennedy dynasty, and distinctly catholic, which compared to its evangelical and protestant equivalents, was progressive at the time. he's been very vocal that the politician he admires the most as being obama, and he was a very vocal hillary supporter. JFK, the clintons, and obama were all pro-israel, as far as i know. obama may have been more critical of israel, but he increased the military aid budget to 3 billion.
evans is not far left. he's an american leftist (that is to say, someone who the rest of the developed world would view as just left of center, as with obama). and if one were to summarize the average american leftist view of israel: the average american leftist is supportive of israel, but is also (much more) sympathetic to the palestinians. they try to straddle some kind of middle ground and are hopeful for a two-state solution, though i think most realists and pragmatists increasingly see it as a pipe dream.
(i'm by no means an expert on the middle east, so if anything i've stated is incorrect, please feel free to interject).
next, while i'm sympathetic to why people feel negatively, i have to say, i think the whole "cancel culture" thing is quite ineffectual. i'll put it this way. as a single individual, i have money invested in diversified funds. i am very certain that, were i to investigate the matter, some of that money eventually ends up being put into defense contracting/war profiteering (i.e., companies making money off of the violence in the middle east). see jill stein. this controversy almost certainly surrounds other americans who are in the same boat (i.e., probably everyone with diversified funds). furthermore, almost all taxpaying american citizens have some money being funneled into settling the west bank, it seems (i.e., nonprofits are making tax-free contributions to these settlements; being tax free means they are being underwritten by the american public). captain america aside, one can also make a reasonable guess that off of the billions made off the MCU, some of that money makes its way to those tax-free charities. in other words, for the people who feel negatively about this, the bus has left the station. a lot of their money probably has gone to pro-israel charities. at this time, me personally, i have no choice but to do the investing i do. it's the only way to put aside enough money in an increasingly precarious situation in the US, where the dollar goes a shorter and shorter distance. i know many other americans are in the exact same position, and really cannot parse out the intricacies of finance to see where it's "safe" to invest.
therefore, in my opinion, the beginning of addressing this problem is not "cancelling" an actor (which, as far as i can tell, just involves not supporting them anymore, lending your money to another actor/performer, until they disappoint you). the first step is to support politicians and leaders who respect separation between church and state. to be frank, as a secularist, there is no one who fits that bill for me--that's the real problem as far as i can tell. there are only people who might move the needle a little bit in that way, which is the best we can do. if anyone who feels negatively is a part of religious organization who is giving tax-free money in this way, they have to try to oppose it. or leave. the landscape of human rights would look very different if those of us left the religious institutions we were a part of when they misbehave, and as far as i can tell, much of the reason that the two-state solution will never come to fruition is hard-liners on either side, almost invariably the far-right religious.
all of this is assuming that the movie is pro-israel, which, without seeing it, one could only see it as if one took it at historical face value. which, me personally, it's been a long time since i've done. for instance, i didn't know much about the events of argo, but when i watched it, i was dead certain there was no last minute escape from the revolutionary guard. i will also echo those who state that, anything mossad has done, the cia has done too, and probably worse. (i.e., if one were to never make a movie depicting the CIA in a positive light, there would probably never be a movie with the CIA).
it puzzles me that some are reading some kind of malignant intent into his selection of the role. i'm very certain he picked it because he liked the script and it happened to fit into his schedule, and there weren't a lot of choices that fit the criteria (i.e., something that seemed good and could also fit in between filming avengers). it's funny, i just went to the beginning of the thread to check on when it was filmed. fascinating to recall that there were initial concerns that the movie wasn't going to be israeli enough! i do have to reiterate an old anecdote about travolta when he was receiving vitriol for battlefield earth. critics were heckling him about what he was thinking when he made the movie, to which he replied, somewhat taken aback by the anger, "it seemed like a good idea at the time!" of course, hind-sight is 20/20, and i agree it behooves one to make sure a movie based on historical events is accurate in its history, but the counterpoint is, if that were true, argo, dallas buyer's club, and titanic would not have been made. it is true that a premium should be placed on accuracy if the subject is somewhat controversial, however. going back to the beginning of the thread, it seemed like there was a lot of excitement surrounding the script. you could see how it was a project people wanted to be onboard with, and reiterates how a 1000 things have to fall into place for a movie to turn out good.
bethnor Yes, nodded all the way through that post. Several nails hit firmly on the head.
One more political point. I mentioned that it's possible to look at both sides and criticise. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza is illegal and immoral. On the other hand, the way Hamas rules Gaza is brutal with extra judicial executions and rampant corruption. Yet, of course, both sides have also much to praise. Even Israel!
It irks me somewhat when I see LGBT flags next to accounts saying they're going to 'cancel' Chris such are their anti-Israeli sentiments. Israel is still the only Middle Eastern state in which it is safe to live openly as LGBT. That doesn't excuse bad behaviour towards Palestinian Arabs but it should be enough to give gay people pause to think Israel is not so 100% bad that even playing an Israeli is enough to enrage you to that point.
In Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, the laws state that if a person is found of engaging in same gender sexual behavior, the death penalty would be applied. According to Country Reports of the US Department of State, in Saudi Arabia there are no established LGBT organizations. Furthermore, reports of official and social discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation remains unclear because of strong social pressure of not to discuss LGBT matters.
Jordan, Bahrain, and Iraq are the only Arab countries where homosexuality is legal; however, there is some stigma in the Iraqi society which sometimes leads to vigilante executions. ISIS does not tolerate homosexuality. Some Middle Eastern nations have some tolerance and legal protections for transsexual and transgender people. For example, the Iranian government has approved sex change operations under medical approval. The Syrian government has approved similar operations back in 2011. LGBT rights movements have existed in other Middle Eastern nations, including Turkey and Lebanon. However in both Turkey and Lebanon, changes have been slow and recent crackdown on LGBT oriented events have raised concerns about the freedom of association and expression of LGBT people and organizations.
Israel is a notable exception, being the most progressive concerning LGBT rights and recognizing unregistered cohabitation. Same-sex marriage is not legal in the country but there is public support for recognizing and registering same-sex marriages performed in other countries. Israel also allows transgender individuals to legally change their gender without surgery. Transgender individuals can serve openly in the Israel Defense Forces.
It confirms to me that the vast majority of the 'offended' actually couldn't explain the Israeli/Palestine conflict to you if their lives depended on it.
There is no glamour to Sharon Shalom’s memories of his evacuation from the Sudanese desert to Israel 35 years ago.
“I had to leave my parents behind in Sudan,” said Shalom, now a rabbi in Tel Aviv, in a phone interview. “The Mossad came in the middle of the night to take us on the trucks. In one small truck, we had 150 people; the mission was very dangerous.”
Now the dare-devil operation by Israel’s secret service to rescue more than 8,000 Ethiopian Jews from Sudanese refugee camps in the early 1980s has become The Red Sea Diving Resort, a fast-paced Netflix drama that turns Chris Evans, best known for playing Captain America, into a dashing Israeli hero.
If the Hollywood gloss makes the mission out to be Ocean’s Eleven in the Nubian Desert, Shalom, who advised the filmmakers on the events of the rescue, said he’s glad nonetheless to see a little-known journey of faith dramatised for a global audience.
“Some friends here in Israel will argue it doesn’t reflect the exact accurate story. The bottom line is, it helps us not to forget what happened, and it starts a conversation.” - Sharon Shalom
“Some friends here in Israel will argue it doesn’t reflect the exact accurate story,” he said. “The bottom line is, it helps us not to forget what happened, and it starts a conversation.”
The resort of the film’s title refers to the dilapidated holiday retreat that the Mossad purchased as a cover for what they dubbed Operation Brothers.
“They had to pass as non-Israeli to help run this fake hotel,” said the movie’s writer and director, Gideon Raff, whose pilot for Homeland, Showtime’s espionage series starring Claire Danes, won him a share of two Emmy awards for screenwriting in 2012.
“These were people who had international backgrounds and grew up in other places,” Raff said.
This explains in part why Evans, as the taciturn team leader Ari Levinson, heads a cast that includes British stage actor Alex Hassell and the Ukrainian-accented Mark Ivanir, with the dandified Ben Kingsley as Levinson’s Mossad superior, Ethan Levin.
After Levinson convinces Levin to let him round up his band of unlikely familiars, the disguised agents take up residence at the resort, only to find themselves serving actual tourists who have come for vacation. As their guests sleep, they ferry the Ethiopians in nondescript trucks to Mossad agents waiting in small boats up the coast, who transfer the refugees onto a larger vessel and safety.
The film’s portrayal of the team’s derring-do, shot in South Africa and Namibia, was a test of director of photography Roberto Schaefer’s lighting skills.
“These operations were always on the darkest Friday of the month, when the moon is really just a sliver,” said Raff. “How do you light a whole desert?”
Michael K Williams (The Wire) plays an Ethiopian community leader who serves as the conduit between the Mossad and the refugees, an amalgamation of several covert contacts in the Sudanese camps. Chris Chalk (Gotham) plays the villainous Sudanese Colonel Ahmed who tries to frustrate the Israeli plan.
Authenticity was paramount for the filmmakers, who at one point hired a Ugandan C-130 Hercules transport plane actually used in several other refugee rescue missions.
Raff began work on the film by seeking out those who participated in Operation Brothers, and not only the Mossad agents who pulled off the ruse.
“I spent a lot of time with the Ethiopians who courageously left their homes and crossed the desert,” he said.
One of those was Shalom, who told Raff his story firsthand as the script was being developed and helped him locate other former refugees.
“I spent a lot of time with the Ethiopians who courageously left their homes and crossed the desert." - Gideon Raff, writer and director.
“It is amazing how Israeli soldiers and Mossad agents answered our letters,” said Shalom, which he said is a testimony to the bonds formed during the high-risk operation. “Suddenly they met brown tribes in Sudan country, we who are Ethiopian Jews. These commandos trained in how to kill people embraced us and began to cry. This happened - and we really are brothers.”
Though the film focuses on the Israeli effort to get them out, it is the Ethiopian Jews, Raff said, who made history in Operation Brothers.
“Ethiopian Jews started this whole thing,” he said. “They left their homes and marched to Sudan. They wrote letters to every Jewish organisation hoping to arrive in Jerusalem, their homeland. Sometimes they don’t get enough credit for how they were proactive in their rescue and smuggle into Israel.”
Shalom, whose Ethiopian name was Zaude Tesfay, remembers the trauma.
“We walked from our village in Ethiopia, a dangerous journey by foot. A lot of people died on the way. But our forefathers teach us: ‘Go, keep going, and never stop.’ So we never gave up.”
The rich history of Jews in Ethiopia begins as far back as 950 BC, during the reign of King Solomon. Other historians date their heritage to the first century.
“We didn’t come to be Jewish in one day,” said Shalom, who wrote a history of his people in From Sinai To Ethiopia in 2016. “The Ethiopian Jews are descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Without our power, faith, hope and dreams, this mission would never have happened.”
Edward L Johnson, a pastor in Lincolnville, South Carolina, and author of These Were God’s People, a chronicle of the Ethiopian Jews and other African diaspora groups, said via email, “Africa is the most ethnically diverse continent on the planet".
"It is when you research these groups that you are then able to see their differences in beliefs, culture, and religion. The biggest mistake that Europeans made when they began to conquer Africa is when they lumped all Africans into one basket as ‘black people.’”
The drama of the Ethiopians’ deliverance into Israel was followed by the longer, sometimes harder, journey of assimilation.
Renamed by Israeli authorities after his arrival at age nine, Shalom served as an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces before attending rabbinical school and became one of the first Ethiopian-Israelis to be ordained by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
Still, he has seen his people face marginalisation in society.
“When we came, they told us we are not 100 per cent Jewish,” said Shalom. “They say, ‘You do not look like Jews.’ A lot of people felt inferior about their identity.”
This January, Shalom saw a lifelong dream come true when he was appointed founding chair of The International Center for the Study of Ethiopian Jewry established at Ono Academic College near Tel Aviv. It is the first such centre globally to document the journey of Ethiopian Jews.
“We want to tell the true story of Ethiopian Jews, and want people to understand it,” said Shalom. “This center will explain and describe Ethiopian Jewry - not from a paternalism that seeks to devalue us, but from reality.
“The centre helps next-generation Ethiopian Jews feel that they belong here in Israeli society.”
At a time when Israel is increasingly the target of criticism internationally for its hardline approach to peace negotiations, the film’s Israeli heroes may not be entirely well received.
“Sure, people will criticise the fact that this story happens to be about Israel,” said Raff. “But this is not a political movie; it’s a human movie. This story about people coming together - of former refugees helping refugees - is very timely.”
The film concludes by noting the current refugee crisis, with more than 70 million displaced people globally. Raff said he and his team hope it spurs viewers to action.
Shalom believes the movie could offer hope precisely to those caught up in the ongoing strife in his part of the world.
“With all the conflict here in the Middle East, I see a lot of hate and fear of others,” he said. “This movie is important for all human beings - not simply Israelis and Ethiopians - because it’s a unifying story of brotherhood.”
Josh M Shepherd is a freelance writer who covers culture, faith and public policy.