“Jerusalem 3D” Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch (Part 2)
Interviews with the Filmmakers
If you’re anywhere near an IMAX theater that is playing “Jerusalem 3D” — the new documentary (or stunning virtual tour, more like) narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch — then I urge you to see this film. I saw the film in Los Angeles in early March, and I am still in awe of the images — and the total immersion into perhaps the most mysterious, beautiful city on earth.
I had a chance to interview the filmmakers — including one of the producers, Taran Davies, and the composer of the soundtrack, Michael Brook (who has done work on notable pop culture films like “Heat,” “Mission Impossible 2,” and the album “Captive,” a collaboration with U2 guitarist The Edge):
What inspired you — that original kernel of inspiration — that drew you to making Jerusalem 3D?
Taran: “I think for me, the fact that I’d grown up with images of Israel, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and it’s a place of war, and I could only look at this part of the world through the prism of this particular conflict and I had a sense that there’s another side to this story. There’s another way of looking at this part of the world. I wanted to look at this part of the world through history and through time and get a better understanding of how it is this place, this tiny piece of land, has been subjected to such conflict.”
Taran also explained — when I told him that I write for a Christian website — that he comes from a unique background: one of his parents was Jewish and the other was Church of England.
With moving sincerity and a clear passion for Jerusalem, he explained to me that, although he might come from a different background than the American Christian readers at Rocking God’s House, he believes that we can find common ground: a shared affection for Jerusalem.
Simply because of how amazing Jerusalem is as a city — in both its history and its magnificence today. The film captures that truth without any of the wearying political conflicts that plague the city. It expresses zero political views. And Taran hopes the film will be a refreshing, beautiful vision of Jerusalem for people, without those kinds of distractions that often weigh Jerusalem documentaries down.
And that’s exactly what it was. It was deeply refreshing to see a stunning multimillion dollar documentary of Jerusalem without heavy-handed opinions finding their way into the mix.
I also had a chance to speak with accomplished Hollywood film composer Michael Brook about his stunning score, which weaves its way nimbly through all of the visuals and narration, supporting it all with tremendous power:
Besides the traditional elements from the cultures depicted in the film, did you draw upon any outside elements — like specific periods of classical music, for example, or other outside influences — for your score?
Composer Michael Brooks: “Nothing overtly. I was trying to follow all those mini-archs of both the camera movement of what you were seeing and what they were saying. And that was sort of the way, and the challenge, to score the subtext, because often, if it was a static shout or they were just talking about something that happened, it felt like, maybe the music should go with that.”
During a general Q and A, the producers provided an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the film:
Why did you use female narrators when the religions depicted are generally patriarchal religions?
It was an accident and it just happened that way, actually. We talked about this earlier: it’s the most storied and enigmatic city on earth — books, films, songs, paintings, poems have been produced [about the city] ad nauseam, forever — but how to do it differently? How to bring this city and the region to an audience in a completely new and wonderful way? And so IMAX and 3D was part of that [of bringing Jerusalem to the world in a different way].
But then, also, wouldn’t it be lovely to hear about this part of the world through its kids and its youth? And that is, of course, a core part of our audience here at the science center [California Science Center in Los Angeles] and other science centers and museums where the film played.
So we set out to cast the film for kids. And we interviewed a whole bunch of kids, all ages, and then we found these three young women. And it wasn’t that we ever intended to have the three women tell the story, but they were clearly the most charismatic characters. And then this was suddenly another way to tell this story about this part of the world in a fresh way — from its young women and the future.
How did you make such an ambitious film in such a sensitive area in the world? How did you pull it off?
We had endless meetings — endless cups of tea — until we earned the trust of each community. Huge amount of trips to Israel.
How much did it cost?
9.3 million. These are often considered cheap Hollywood movies — as far as Hollywood production values — they’re not thought of as documentaries. We had to bring the helicopter in from another country to film. It’s an indescribably expensive process.
This is the most immersive medium in the world. And if you want to reach kids, this is the best way to do it in the world. They can’t look at their Facebook pages, they can’t Tweet, they can’t do anything else, and they are absolutely absorbed. If you ask any NASA astronaut, he or she will tell you they are in space because they saw an IMAX film about space. These films inspire people to do crazy and amazing things, and that’s why we love making them. We’re reaching people in a way that no other medium can. YouTube does not do what this does.
To find IMAX showtimes near you, go here:
To explore the official website of the film, click here: