New Release: Promised Lands DVD

Zeitgeist and KimStim released the 1974 documentary Promised Lands, by the late writer and critic Susan Sontag, on DVD on Feb. 15, 2011, with a suggested retail price of $29.99.

Promised Lands is famed Sontag’s sole documentary (and the third film she directed), which she shot in Israel on the fly in the final days and immediate aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Not only does the film scrutinize the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, but it also underscores the deepening divisions within Jewish thought over the very question of Palestinian sovereignty.

Banned by Israeli authorities during its initial release, this visually visceral portrait of a land torn apart by the competing values of militarism, consumerism and religious national identity is as prescient and thought provoking as ever.

Filled with observations of a modern Israel, Promised Lands is replete with war-torn desert landscapes, ancient synagogues and mosques, roadside military patrols, devotions at the Wailing Wall, modern shops and movie theaters and a wax museum depicting official state history.

Intercut throughout the imagery are conflicting commentaries by two noted Israeli thinkers: Yoram Kaniuk, celebrated writer and a supporter of Palestinian rights who sees Israel shifting from its socialist roots to an American-style commercial culture; and renowned physicist Yuval Ne’eman, who argues that the endemic nature of Arab anti-Semitism makes continual conflict between these historically related peoples inevitable.

Presented in English, Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles, the DVD of Promised Lands does not have any special features.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.