Live and Become (2005) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A Christian boy escapes to Israel from famine-stricken Ethiopia by pretending to be Jewish.

  • In 1980 the black Falashas in Ethiopia are recognised as genuine Jews. In turn they are secretly carried to Israel. The day before the transport the son of a Jewish mother dies. In his place and with his name (Schlomo) she takes a Christian 9-year-old boy. Upon arrival this second mother dies. Schlomo is adopted by a good family but remains depressed until he secretly sends a letter to his real mother. From the beginning he experiences large and small racist difficulties. In his teens he and Sarah fall in love. Her father is an extreme racist. Schlomo tries to gain "real Jewishness" by winning a competition in Bible interpretation. No change of Sarah's father's attitude. Disappointed he goes to the police and reports himself as not being a Jew. But the police officer just gives him a scolding. "The newspapers are full of that stuff, the Falashas are no Jews. Now they begin to believe it themselves." His adoptive parents send him to France to study medicine. When he afterwards marries Sarah she loses her family and her status as a "white Jew". But he dares not tell her the truth until she becomes pregnant. She leaves him, but only because he had not trusted that she would love him as much anyway. His adoptive mother reconciles them. Sarah's first line when she returns: "Unbelievable what three mothers would do for you." But she makes a condition for returning: Schlomo must meet his real mother again. As a doctor he takes a job in the Ethiopian fugitive camp where she is still alive.


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  • The difficulty of being a minority within a minority, the fight for truthfulness and belonging against all odds. This is a very personal look at the recent history of Israel and its multiple conflicts. A very small boy does not understand and cannot come to terms with politics and race as a young Ethiopian that has to live his country losing father, sister and brother to the conflict. He also loses his mother as she pushes him to go ahead with the black Jewish from Ethiopia that are moving to Israel. Four very strong women that know how to fight for their corner make the adulthood from this child and get ready to become a father where the film finishes. Very moving. An honest look inside minorities.

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