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The Zohar Secret

Zohar Secret, The (2016) Movie Poster
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Israel / USA / Ukraine / Russia / Spain  •    •  124m  •    •  Directed by: Vladek Zankovsky.  •  Starring: Israel Sasha Demidov, Irina Barinova, Henry David, Roi Miron, Oleg Fendura, Svetlana Demidov, Sergey Popov, Igal Reznik, Yuri Yadikin, Vladimir Zolin, Igor Gomenuk, Giora Shtark, Benzi Giertz.  •  Music by: Elyada Ramon.
    Max finds himself in possession of an ancient scroll that describes the entire history of humankind from beginning to end. Seeking to use the information for his own gain, Max triggers the mechanism that begins influencing his own life.

Trailers:

   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:
 2:17
 
 
 1:50
 
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Review:

Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
Image from: Zohar Secret, The (2016)
The story begins with Max, a Roman soldier, being charged with the return of one of the recently discovered scrolls of Zohar to Jerusalem. Why this is so vitally important to anyone else but Max is not fully explained by the film and is arguably not critically important to the movie. Neither is the significance of Zohar, and whether this is the same Zohar of Jewish literature, explained.

It feels strange to say that this is not a spoiler, but Max dies in the first few minutes of the film, but only to come back in another time and place (always in the future) - a cycle that continues as long as the scroll is not returned to its rightful place. Following along in these episodes is Max's doppleganger, sometimes as a character of the time or other times as an alter ego, who acts as the antagonist and the only one who seems to know everything, including all that has happened to Max to that point. We are never sure if the doppleganger is real or imaginary. Was he cursed along with Max when they are both killed in the catacomb? or is Max imagining him? These leaps of time and space from Max's point of view are the most effective part of the film. After each leap, we share in Max's disorientation as we discover our new existence and share in his apprehension not knowing if he will die within minutes or live a full life only to learn at the end that the quest must still be fulfilled.

The cinematography and design of period pieces and wardrobe are excellent, particularly for a film with such a modest budget. As I was watching this film, I was wondering if this would be the best film I would see this year or if I would be disappointed at the end. Yes, early parts of this film are that brilliant.

The story wraps up with a seed of doubt in the viewer as to the reliability of our protagonist as the point of view of the story. Fine, I thought, and allowed myself to play along expecting this would be a perfect setup for some amazing reveal. However, in my opinion, the ending is disappointing and lacking in the artistry of the rest of the film. It gives the impression of a hurried production and a patchwork of different directions, anyone of which could have been the ending only to be all conveniently tidied up as the credits roll. Too bad. I was rooting to be swept away at the end of the quest.


Review by Nelson Garcia from the Internet Movie Database.