My family and I went to see the new IMAX movie “Jerusalem” on Saturday. The photography is amazing, and the access to sacred sites is unparalleled. You could go on a thousand pilgrimages to Jerusalem and never see these events from this perspective. I’ll paste the movie trailer below, it’s worth watching just to glimpse these images.
The movie was produced by National Geographic, and I’ll paste in the Filmmaker’s Statement of purpose, because it states what the movie is, and is not:
We are trying to answer the question: Why Jerusalem?
Jerusalem stirs passions so deep and its role in Western civilization is so pivotal that we as filmmakers felt moved to bring this city to the world through the beauty and power of the giant screen.
Our goal is to look at the roots of the universal attachment to Jerusalem: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope the juxtaposition of these different religions and cultures – all with profound spiritual and historical connections to the city – will reveal how much Jews, Christians and Muslims have in common and inspire all of us to better understand each other.
Our film is not about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It embraces the idea that Jerusalem is many cities: imagined and real; past and present; Jewish, Christian, Muslim and secular. What is it about this tiny space that made it the ultimate prize of empires and the object of longing for so many different cultures over thousands of years?
We believe that the power of the images and stories in JERUSALEM will allow our audience a unique window into the lives of others. Every stone in Jerusalem has many stories. It is the collective power of all these stories that makes the city so endearing to billions of people.
I resonate with the question: Why Jerusalem? Why does one square mile exert such a pull on so many people and so many faith traditions? All of the monotheistic traditions, the Abrahamic traditions, are rooted here.
Jerusalem is a fascinating place, and I believe the ancients were right when they called it the center of the world. The spiritual energy over the place is unique. I felt it too. Seeing the movie reminded me of this paragraph from my book:
Our tour guide says, “It’s a surprising land. Expectations get turned on their heads here. Jerusalem is the center of the world.” As he says this, he spreads his arms wide, and I’m reminded of the woman who cuts my hair, who made the same motion when I told her about my plans for this trip. She had her razor-sharp scissors in one hand as she made expansive circles: “The pictures from space show a cosmic energy swirling over Jerusalem. It’s the navel of every belief. It’s dangerous because God is dangerous.” I had kept a close eye on the blades of her scissors, circling near my head.
(Excerpt from Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land)