Right after we got home from church, my wife said we had to go NOW if we were celebrating National Cinema Day with $4 tickets. I didn’t know that she’d selected a movie to see at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany.
I knew nothing about the film Golda, except that it was about the late Israeli prime minister and starred Helen Mirren.
After a cursory history of Israel (formed in 1948 and fought the Six-Day War in 1967), we heard a discussion among Israel’s military leaders about what turned out to be the Yom Kippur War of 1973. There were disagreements about strategies in anticipation of Egyptian and Syrian military buildups; a preemptive strike by Israel would have been unacceptable to the US leadership of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger.
What I learned in the film is that Golda Meir smoked cigarettes. She smoked a LOT of cigarettes. Smoking cigarettes was hazardous to her health.
Meanwhile, the battles far from Tel Aviv seemed at arm’s length, hearing about defeats and victories via audio transmissions.
I was not engaged in the film until about halfway through when Henry Kissinger (Liev Schreiber) arrived. There’s subsequently a good scene with multiple phones and a few others. But it was too little, too late.
Golda Meir, the person, is intriguing; she was born in Kiev/Kyiv in 1898, immigrated with her family to Milwaukee, and then emigrated to Palestine with her husband in 1921. She became the first female head of government in the Middle East.
Golda, the movie, is, according to critic Todd Jorgenson of Cinemalogueone” “.. .uninvolving as a political thriller and incomplete as a recap of Golda’s background and rise to power. It remains emotionally detached while struggling to penetrate her steely gaze.” I’ll buy that. It was 51% positive with the critics, though 89% with the audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
One thing I loved was the outro music. It was from Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas, specifically Dido’s Lament from the aria “When I am laid in earth.” Conductor Leopold Stokowski wrote a transcription of the piece for the symphony orchestra.
Here’s a version conducted by Stokowski. The video has too much background hiss, but I love that the conductor announces that it’s a piece “we all know.”
Listen to a version from the 1995 Proms, conducted by Andrew Davis.
One last thing: to the woman whose cellphone rang at least four times during the film- Grawlix.