Jewish Journal


July 17, 2012

How can Woody Allen make Israel’s tourism flourish



Thanks in advance, Woody.

I just so happened to watch To Rome with Love the very same day I read that Woody Allen said he is not ruling out the possibility to film in Israel. I am not a big Allen fan, and accordingly, I had a bit of a difficulty to connect to the somewhat strange plot. But in spite of the fact I wasn’t sympathetic towards any of the characters or continued thinking about the plot at home, I had this urge to book a flight to Rome. This is the second time a movie attracted me to a city in such an intense level. The first time was after I watched Vicky, Christina, Barcelona- another Allen film.

What can I say? Allen’s got a magical touch. He makes the location the main character, and the absence of one human main character in his ensemble films makes the location even more emphasized.  It is something you cannot miss, even if you are hooked to the plot. It is something you feel inside, this admiration for a breathtaking city where all those mysterious people live. A place that even the characters take some time off of their daily routine to admire. “Location, location, location” seems to be a phrase Allen often keeps in mind lately. It’s not a new rule in cinema, for we’ve seen it before in many Hollywood films putting yet another American city on the tourists’ maps. But Allen’s different. First of all, because he takes a financial risk as he chooses a foreign location, which combines a use of a foreign language, which can easily make his films somewhat “niche”. And secondly, because he doesn’t just make the viewers think to themselves that next time they go to Europe they might pay a visit to this certain city; he makes the viewers think of the city, and not stop until they either book a flight or tragically realize they can’t afford a vacation right now.

When I watched To Rome with Love, I saw myself there, walking among the Piazzas, smelling a fresh-from-the-oven Pizza and drinking espresso. I saw myself having a candlelight dinner under the moonlight with my loved one, and walking, hand in hand, through the enchanting European streets, listening to Italian music and breathing Italian air. When I opened my eyes, the light went on and the audience was leaving the theater. I can hardly remember the plot right now, but I know I must visit Rome and feel all of what Allen made me feel through the screen. I didn’t think about the Italian promiscuous former Prime-minister, or about Italy’s financial difficulties; all I read about in the papers meant nothing to me after watching To Rome with Love- I just wanted to be there.

It’s not a wild dream to believe Allen will film in Israel someday: lately, more and more filmmakers and television productions choose to add Israel as one of their locations. You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, the Debt, and Homeland‘s second season is just a shortlist of big productions filmed in Israel in the past couple of years. I wish Allen decides to film here, because an Allen Israeli film would give the audience what all of the other Allen films give: a genuine point of view on the place. It is very easy to rule out a vacation location because of what we read in the papers, especially when it comes to Europe. That’s why I thank the lord for Woody Allen’s filmmaking, which shows that all that we read in the papers doesn’t reflect what truly matters: the streets, the scenery, the atmosphere, the people. This is the real Rome, and this is the real Israel. I know for sure that an Allen movie featuring Israel would do justice to this magnificent place that many find it difficult to see through the headlines. This is the magic of the movies: they can take you anywhere and make it feel like you are in a parallel universe. But the best part is that it’s real. It’s all real. All we have to do is leave the theater and book a flight.

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