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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Exodus (1960)

Exodus (1960)

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Released 18-Aug-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1960
Running Time 199:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (94:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Otto Preminger

Starring Paul Newman
Eva Marie Saint
Ralph Richardson
Peter Lawford
Lee J. Cobb
Sal Mineo
John Derek
Hugh Griffith
Gregory Ratoff
Felix Aylmer
David Opatoshu
Jill Haworth
Marius Goring
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Ernest Gold

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.20:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I feel sure that I have previously seen at least some of this film, as certain scenes were somewhat familiar to me, especially the early ones, so maybe it was a case of seeing the start of the movie as a child and then being told it was time for bed. Regardless, I was keen to review this movie as it is one of the great epics produced in a 3 year period between 1959 & 1962 along with Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia and Spartacus. Those films are all probably better known than this, however, this is of comparable quality and it could be argued has the most relevance to today, as the repercussions of the story told in this film are still being felt in the Middle East. Interestingly, Lawrence of Arabia actually tells a story closely linked with this because the issues in that film caused some of the problems encountered in Exodus. In fact, I would argue that one excellent way to understand how badly the world has made a mess of the Middle East in the last 100 years would be to watch Lawrence of Arabia, Lawrence After Arabia (a small film starring Ralph Fiennes) and Exodus.

    The actual story portrayed in Exodus is based upon a novel by Leon Uris of the same name, however, it certainly includes many events which actually occurred. The fictional parts involve specific people and their stories. Following World War II, many Jews wanted to leave Europe and settle in the land of their forefathers, Palestine, which had been controlled by the British since 1917 after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. The British had previously announced that they supported the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, however, they actively discouraged Jews from going to Palestine, turning boats around and sending them to Cyprus, where they were held in detention camps. It is here where the film begins with a ship arriving in Cyprus with 611 Jewish refugees on board. They are processed and sent to a detention camp run by the British. Two of the refugees are Dov Landau (Sal Mineo), a young man who has survived Auschwitz and wishes to become a terrorist and Karen Hansen (Jill Haworth), a young girl who was sent to Denmark during the war by her family in Germany, and who now wishes to find her father whom she believes to be living in Palestine.

    At the same time, Katherine Fremont (Eva Marie Saint), a nurse and friend of the British Commander in Cyprus, General Sutherland (Ralph Richardson), has arrived to visit him. Her husband, a war correspondent, was killed in Palestine. General Sutherland suggests that she might like to help out in the detention camps, as she is a trained nurse and she reluctantly agrees. There she meets Karen and they form a friendship. Katherine decides that she would like to take Karen back to America with her.

    Within the Jewish community in Palestine under British rule, two organisations were formed. Firstly in 1920, the Haganah (literally Defense) were formed to defend the Jewish people from Arabs, as the community did not believe that they received adequate protection from the British. They became the regular Israeli Army in 1948 once independence was declared. In 1931 a group split from the Haganah, called the Irgun, who believed that defence was not enough and that attacks were required against the British and Arabs to gain independence. Dov Landau wishes to join this group once he arrives in Palestine.

    But, back to Cyprus. Shortly after the arrival of the new refugees, a Haganah leader, Ari Ben Canaan (Paul Newman), arrives surreptitiously in Cyprus and has a plan to bring the world's attention to the plight of the Jews in Cyprus. His plan involves impersonating a British Officer (which he was during the war) with counterfeit orders to take the newly arrived refugees, put them on a boat and send them back to Germany. Of course, his real plan is to take them to Palestine. He has arranged for a boat called the Olympia to be available for this purpose. He plan nearly succeeds except that the British realise what is going on and blockade the Olympia in the harbour. The refugees refuse to return to the camp and, after renaming the ship Exodus, decide to start a hunger strike. By different methods, both Katherine & Karen are on board and both decide to stay for different reasons. It probably sounds like I have given away the entire story but I have really only described the first 45 minutes of what is a 3+ hour extravaganza. As the saga continues the story includes terrorism, family reconciliation, murder, courtroom drama, prison riots, romance (2 different ones), politics and history being made. Other important characters include Ari's father Barak Ben Canaan (Lee J. Cobb), a legitimate Israeli leader and his brother, Akiva Ben Canaan (David Opatoshu), the leader of Irgun.

    Despite the 200 minute running time this is such a huge story that the pace never lags and you never feel the need to squirm in your seat, mostly thanks to the excellent direction by Otto Preminger. The acting is uniformly excellent, with Newman doing a good job as the morally ambiguous Ari Ben Canaan and Sal Mineo excellent as the young naive Dov Landau. He was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for his performance. The film was also nominated for cinematography and original score. The film was made entirely on location in Cyprus and Israel, which adds significantly to the realistic feel of the movie.

    This movie is obviously quite politically charged and generally speaking comes down on the side of Israel. It will be up to you and your personal views as to whether this film correctly reflects the history, although it should certainly be noted that this is a fictional story.

    Generally, this is a top quality epic, which although not quite of the quality of Lawrence of Arabia is certainly a piece of cinema worthy of being mentioned in the same league.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is disappointing especially considering the quality of the movie.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is not quite the original aspect ratio of 2.20:1.The lack of 16x9 enhancement in my view significantly reduces the video quality on show, especially in terms of film-to-video artefacts.

    The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. There was some light grain. The shadow detail was reasonable but certainly nothing spectacular. On this part of the review alone this would be quite a good transfer considering the age of the material, although 16x9 enhancement would have improved this.

    The colour was very good, well saturated with no noticeable colour artefacts.

    And now we come to the problem...aliasing, jagged lines and shimmering are absolutely everywhere in this transfer. At times it seems like the entire frame is aliasing. The usual suspects like car grilles are the absolute worst with rainbow colours of aliasing, however, everything else has a really good go as well from buildings, to walls, to clothes, to eyeballs and many many more. At 4:07, a car is driving down the street and not only is its grille aliasing but all the buildings and roofs around it. I have not seen a worse transfer in terms of aliasing. In addition to this there are a significant amount of film artefacts, which are worse in specific scenes and some edge enhancement, although these pale into insignificance compared to the aliasing. I also noticed a slight skip in the film at 120:35.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired, French and Dutch. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read although slightly summarised from the spoken word. The only minor benefit of not having 16x9 enhancement is that the subtitles appear on the black bar rather than the picture. It should be noted that you cannot turn subtitles on and off during the movie on this disc, which I found slightly annoying.

    The layer change occurs at 94:27 and is well placed during a fade to black.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is reasonable.

    This DVD contains two audio options; an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and a French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync. The dialogue had a slight echo in some scenes, probably due to ADR work and at 65:30, Paul Newman appears to say something which is not audible and not included in the subtitles, but this would be inherent in the original film.

    The score of this film by Ernest Gold is excellent and won the Academy Award for best Original Music. The theme is especially outstanding. The music is occasionally slightly distorted which is a shame, but not unexpected in a film of this age which has not been substantially restored.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu included stills from the film and the ability to select languages and scenes.

Theatrical Trailer (2:44)

    This trailer shows that the colour in the feature is really quite good as it is very dull here. Generally, this is a reasonable trailer with no major spoilers and an excited voiceover.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This movie has been released in the same format in Region 1 and Region 2 and reviews indicate similar video issues as mentioned here. With the PAL/NTSC differences, I will give the Region 4 version a slight edge.


    A epic saga of politics, war, murder, terrorism and the history of the Middle East which can be listed with films like Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia and Spartacus as one of the great epics. It badly needs a multi-disc special edition to replace this sub-standard release.

    The video quality is disappointing.

    The audio quality is reasonable.

    The disc has only a theatrical trailer as an extra..

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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