The Essence of It All (film #9 in the Health section of the State of Israel section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This 60s film documents the work of the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, a huge hospital serving patients of many nationalities and cultures. This is told very idealistically and touchingly as a story of people helping people. The film has a very Jewish feel to it, using a variety of Jewish narrators and regularly invoking religious ideals. It could have been maudlin, but apart from a section on handlicapped children which is hard to watch by today’s standards (a toddler who is paralyzed from the waist down is referred to as “half a baby”––this gives you an idea of the tone of this section), it’s actually quite touching and not overdone. The multicultural content of the film is ahead of its time, giving the film a lot of historical interest.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

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