The Land of Promise
Cast & Crew
Charles W. Herbert
The life of the Jews in Palestine and their efforts to build a modern civilization is shown. Arabs shepherd animals, toss hay and mill grain by hand, as the narrator states that the land harbored a great civilization while the Jews lived there in ancient times, but that after they were driven out, a gradual decline occurred and primitive life returned. A wooden water wheel driven by a camel is shown, as are a prayer call at a mosque, Arabs in the streets and bazaars of the old city of Jerusalem. To illustrate that the city has existed as a sanctuary for three great religions, scenes of The Mosque of the Dome on Mount Moriah, churches and the Via della Rosa, consecrated by Jesus, are presented. Jews in the city are then shown, and the narrator relates that Palestine is the birthplace of their religion and nationhood. Sephardim , or Oriental Jews, are shown, including Jews from Yemen. Rachel's Tomb is shown, as are Jews praying at the Wailing Wall. Pioneers and refugees are shown debarking from a ship. The new seaport of Haifa and the old Jewish city of Tel Aviv are shown, as are Jews in new settlements, who break ground and use machinery to drill wells for water, which then flows into irrigation paths, as Arabs pass by with their camels. Orchards and scenes of planting are shown, and the narrator states that the Jews, who had been separated from the land for 2,000 years, have built settlements only a few years old that have become self-supporting. Scenes are shown of the cooperative colonies, which, the narrator relates, link national idealism to social idealism. The narrator relates that the city of Tel Aviv, with more than 100,000 inhabitants, was wilderness twenty-five years earlier and is is still expanding. The following scenes are shown: women plowing, breaking stones, and working as masons, bricklayers and builders; a soap factory that uses olive oil; the industrial use of chemical deposits by a silk factory located at the Dead Sea; cotton grown in Egypt is woven; a dental factory, a milk bottling plant and a candy factory; the Anglo-Palestine Bank, which is not run for private profit; and the Levant Fair, host to 100,000 visitors. At the beginning of Friday evening in Tel Aviv, a bugler signals the opening of the Sabbath, and the Jews pray. Other sites visited are: the Tel Aviv beach, a world famous resort; Old Jerusalem and institutions of the new Jerusalem, which has sprung up outside the gates of the old city; a concert at the open air theater of Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus; the Hebrew University and its library; and the technical school of Haifa, founded by the earliest colonists. A mass meeting in Haifa is shown in which the issue of new possibilities for immigration and colonization is addressed. Harvest of wheat, grapes, oranges and plums, the latter which never before grew there, is shown, as is a flour mill and a street parade in Haifa to celebrate the Jewish thanksgiving festival. The narrator states that wanderers of 2,000 years have come home and that the land is a promise for millions of exiles seeking fulfillment of their ancient dream.
Charles W. Herbert
Walter R. Hicks
The title card reads: "The Land of Promise The First Palestine Sound Picture." The opening credits contain the following statement by production manager Leo Herrmann: "This first sound film of Palestine is the result of the cooperation of thousands of men and women. In the midst of their labor for the rebuilding of the Jewish Homeland they placed themselves at the disposal of the sponsors of the film in order that others might share in their experience. Special appreciation is due to the workers settlements, particularly to Givath Brenner, where the Emek song was born." After the credits, the following statement appears: "This is a dream of a people which is changing the Land of Promise into the Land of Fulfillment. It is a record of the struggles and triumphs of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who are lifting Palestine back into the ranks of the great civilized countries, preparing a homeland for hundreds of thousands of other Jews now homeless throughout the world and thereby restoring the scattered Jewish Nation to a life of freedom and creativity."
Contemporary material at NCJF concerning the German release of the film, entitled Land der Verheissung in German, states that it is a Fox Movietone-Film made by Urim Palestine Film Co., Ltd., Jerusalem. The New York Times review relates that photographer Charles W. Herbert was a Fox Movietone cameraman in the Near East, and modern sources also state that Fox was involved in financing the production. Some modern sources list the film's title as New Life, or, in Hebrew, Khayim Khadashim, and state that it was produced in 1934. Modern sources state that writer and theater manager Margot Klausner and her husband Jehoshua Prandstatter, who wanted to establish a film industry in Palestine, began the film as a co-production with Herrmann, the director of the Department of Information of the Jewish Foundation Fund, also known as the Palestine Foundation Fund. However, because Herrmann wanted to focus on the achievements and activities of the Fund, Klausner and Prandstatter left the project. A modern source contains a listing for a 22-minute version of this film, in 16mm, with Christopher Stone narrating.
According to Motion Picture Herald, the musical score "was developed from authentic Yemenite, Arabic and Hebraic themes." Motion Picture Herald also stated that narrator David Ross was a "noted radio announcer." Reviews gave the film high praise. Variety called it, "the most comprehensive treatise on the Palestine subject yet devised, and telling more about Palestine, and with more power and authority, than reams of printed data and hours of lecture platform dissertations." Admiring the photography, Frank S. Nugent of New York Times, wrote, "Rarely has the camera presented such magnificent portraiture, nor used it with more telling effect." Variety stated that much of the footage was used in a recent March of Time newsreel. Concerning the issue of the film's bias, Variety commented, "No propaganda is directly attempted," while Nugent in New York Times stated that the film was "colored slightly no doubt by the film-makers' point of view."