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Masada – HerStory 2018, 2018

Masada – HerStory, was filmed in Masada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Judean Desert of Israel. It was inspired by the story recounted by the historian Josephus Flavius, in his Greek version of The Jewish War (75 CE), of two women who defied their commander Eleazar Ben Yair and went into hiding with 5 little children. A forgotten story within the favored narrative of the notorious collective suicide ordered by the leader before the fall of Masada to the Romans in 73 CE during the first Jewish-Roman War.

Historical Background:

After the fall of Jerusalem and Judea to the Romans in 70 CE, the fortress of Masada remained the last rebels’ stronghold. Following several months of siege, the rebels committed collective suicide in an ultimate gesture of freedom on the spring of 73 CE. Not one living soul remained to fall into the hands of the Romans, or so believed the last fighter.

But Josephus Flavius writes that: “an old woman escaped, along with another who was related to Eleazar, in intelligence and education superior to most women, and five little children. They had hidden in the conduits that brought drinking-water underground while the rest were intent upon the suicide-pact.” It was these women who conveyed the story to the Romans when they entered the fortress at dawn: “…Seeing no enemy, but dreadful solitude on every side, fire within, and silence, they were at a loss to guess what had happened…the noise came to the ears of the women, who emerged from the conduits and gave the Romans a detailed account of what had happened, the second of them providing a lucid report of Eleazar’s speech and the action that had followed.” Josephus Flavius, Of the Jewish War, Book VII, Chap VIII

Masada – HerStory was inspired by the forgotten rebellion of two women against their leader, Eleazar Ben Yair. In the present movie, five women pay homage, each in her own special way, to these two women and to their alternative choice.

At sunset, Masada wrap herself again in a cloak of mystery.”Here stand mountains round about, congealed and silent. They are eternal witnesses, ever intelligent, seeing everything always, hearing everything always, and knowing how vain the toil of the climbers has always been.”  (Yitzhak Lamdan, Masada: A Historical Epic 1927).

The movie: 11:11′ (extract on site: 1:38′)

Cast:  Hagar Dagan (flutiste), Maya Yogel (dancer), Yaeli Tai (singer), Alexandra Lavastine (mummy), Sigal and Avner Weissbein (mother and son).

Cinematographer: Talia (Tulik) Galon, Editor: Ora Maimon Pilewski, Aerial Photographer: Aviv Kegen, Camera assistant: Lior Mamon, Photographer: Gal Mosenson, Costumes designer: Lera Lemberg, Hebrew Narrator: Sigal Weissbein, Original score and lyrics: Hagar Dagan and Yael Tai, Sound design and music: Marcello Pilewski, Location sound recordist: Ishai Ilan, Makeup:  Idit Ayala Alajem, Post Production: Colorist: Yair Nahson, Visual Effects: Omri Grossman, Studio: Bootke Color Studio, Location: Masada, A UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the Judean Desert.

Map of Masada by Dom Augustin Antoine Calmet, France, 1672-1757, After Jean Doubdan, Siege et Prise de Massada par les Romains, Etching. Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Elie Posner


Ariane Littman