Jerusalem 3D Review
Narrated by: Benedict Cumberbatch’s
Part I of our “Jerusalem 3D” series introduces you to this landmark 3D IMAX documentary — the most astonishing film about Jerusalem ever made. Part II features a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the film, including interviews with the filmmakers.
If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing Jerusalem in person and standing before that great, gleaming jewel of God — that eternal crossroad for civilizations — but you’re afraid you’ll never have the opportunity to make such a trip, there’s good news.
The film “Jerusalem 3D” — a made-for-IMAX wonder — will take you there.
After seeing it on a seven-story IMAX screen in Los Angeles, frankly, I can’t stop thinking about the stunning visuals or replaying the scenes in my mind.
The film is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It really, truly — and I’m not exaggerating here — feels like, in a very tactile, in-the-midst-of-it, sensory way, that you are actually in Jerusalem (and other parts of Israel surrounding Jerusalem).
The film, to my relief, also doesn’t try to take sides with any of the faiths that call Jerusalem home. It doesn’t offer any opinions about religion. It’s simply there to observe and give you a visual feast.
In fact, it doesn’t get into any politics at all — not even a little. The film intentionally stays away from the wearying political and religious conflicts in Israel and just lets you enjoy — with a big sigh of wonderment and a smile — the beauty, mystery, and power that is Jerusalem.
Although there is a time and place for political and religious discussion, it was refreshing to get a break from all that and just enjoy.
As a Christian who feels great affection for Jerusalem, this film was paradise. It immersed me in every little cranny and side-street (it seemed) of every major quarter of the city — Christian, Jewish, Muslim — all the places I’ve always been curious about.
And it allowed three young women, not actors, but real locals of Jerusalem — a Christian girl, a Jewish girl, and a Muslim girl — to be our tour guides. Their sincerity and down-to-earth tone — and their youthful vulnerability — softened the audience to see the city with childlike wonder. It was a fascinating contrast: the tenderness and earnestness of youth set before an ancient backdrop as imposing and eternal as a mountain.
Their observations, and even clips of them eating dinner or celebrating festivals with their families, was interspersed with the world-class narration of actor superstar Benedict Cumberbatch, who reportedly — according to the producers we interviewed — has an immense passion for Jerusalem. Cumberbatch did intensive research and personal preparation for the narration.
The film also guided the audience through the ancient history of Jerusalem — how it was founded, where it came from, how it got its name, etc. And it went through all of the textbook factoids with excellent pacing that held your interest. Its animation in some of these historical scenes — where it recreated certain historical appearances visually — was stunning.
During the Q and A session, one of the producers gave a jaw-dropping account of something the film crew experienced during the shoot. In order to get the shots of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where Jesus’ tomb is and where the Stone of Unction is, which is purportedly the stone where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial), the crew had to wait until it closed to the public — that was their only way to get the shots. They then had to spend the night in the church, with the doors locked, filming the scenes of the tomb. They then climbed into their sleeping bags around the Stone of Unction (if you can imagine having a sleep-over where Jesus was for three days before rising from the dead). The producer described it, with humility and humor, as both terrifying, humbling, and deeply inspiring.
Jerusalem 3D’s soundtrack alone (from the viewpoint of someone who studied music in college) is also worth the price of admission. It doesn’t crush you with soaring orchestral pads like a god-like hammer crushing insects beneath its giant overpowering “emotion.” The music is nimble and deftly emotional in all the right places, but never says more than it has to. It knows where the visuals are powerful enough to speak for themselves.
The film is presently in IMAX theaters across the country, though it opens today, March 10, at the seven-story IMAX in the California Science Center in Los Angeles (where I saw the film).
This is by far the most breathtaking experience I’ve ever had in any movie theater, and I urge our readers: please, if you’re within driving distance of an IMAX theater– or even flying distance — go see this movie!
More fascinating details — including interviews with the producers and composer — to come in Part II of our “Jerusalem 3D” review series.
To find IMAX showtimes near you, go here:
To explore the official website of the film, click here: