Summary of the Movie "A Long Way Home"

by Daniel Francis

"The Long Way Home" is an unrated, 210-minute documentary that debuted in theaters Sept. 19, 1997 and on DVD in August 2000. It was written and directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and produced by Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Richard Trank. "The Long Way Home" won the 1997 Academy Award for Best Documentary.

The Holocaust

Although the subject of the Holocaust during World War II is a frequent topic of books and works of art, "The Long Way Home" uses survivors of the horrors to tell its story. Through news footage and interviews, the film recreates the stories of what came after the end of the war in 1945 when those in concentration camps were freed by American and British soldiers.


The documentary focuses on the years of 1945 through 1948 as they were experienced by Jewish refugees. Anti-semitism, poverty and displacement were among the hurdles many refugees had to overcome. The homes they were taken from were gone and many carried the physical and psychological scars of concentration camps. Immigrating to Palestine was the goal for many who only found themselves in camps again in Cyprus, waiting for approval from the British government, which occupied Palestine at the time. The film also shows the speeches and debates in the United Nations that led up to the creation of Israel in 1948.


Renown U.S. news anchor Walter Cronkite appears in footage reporting on the Nuremberg war crimes trials. World leaders, including U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet Foreign Minsiter Andrei Gromyko and future president of Israel Golda Meir, all appear in stock news footage.


Several actors offer voice performances. The film is narrated by Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman. Ed Asner is the voice of both a Holocaust survivor and General George S. Patton. Other performers include Sean Astin, Helen Slater, Michael York and Academy Award winner Martin Landau. The voices depicted in the film are those of refugees, Holocaust survivors, soldiers and others who witnessed both the Holocaust and the building of Israel and recorded their thoughts and experiences in letters and journals.

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