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Jerusalem explores history, religion
Image from t he film “Jerusalem” now showing at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s IMAX® Theatre. - photo by GEORGIA DUFFIELD

The giant-screen film “Jerusalem” at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s IMAX® Theatre, in conjunction with the Winter Wonderland exhibition, has turned the museum into a holiday attraction.

Jerusalem is a place like no other: sacred to half the people on earth; fought over more than any other site in history; conquered and destroyed, rebuilt and reinvented repeatedly over 5,000 years. Now, for the first-time ever, a giant-screen film presented by National Geographic Entertainment immerses audiences in a spectacular cinematic journey — soaring high above the Holy Land and plunging deep into the vibrant Old City — so they can experience as never before the iconic sites cherished by billions.

“Jerusalem,” showing at Fernbank through Feb. 12, is a breathtaking film exploring the intersection of science, history and religion in this ancient place.

Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch (“Star Trek into the Darkness,” PBS’ “Sherlock”), “Jerusalem” gives audiences a rare glimpse of the storied city, as well as exclusive access to iconic holy sites — including the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee and the mountain fortress of Masada — and to little-known parts of the region.

Special access is one of the film’s unique aspects. Filmmakers were granted permission to capture aerial images over the Old City of Jerusalem and throughout the Holy Land. A strict no-fly zone has existed over the region for many years, restricting low-altitude filming. Once secured, the filmmakers launched a major campaign in both Hebrew and Arabic to notify the public weeks before filming began.

“‘Jerusalem’ embodies National Geographic’s commitment to tell visually compelling stories that foster greater understanding and appreciation of world cultures, history, science and geography,” said Lisa Truitt, president of National Geographic Entertainment, the film’s distributor.

“Jerusalem” presents the story from many perspectives — interviewing a prominent archaeologist and following real-life inhabitants of the ancient city to explore the enduring appeal of this unique crossroads of civilization.

With thousands of archaeological sites, Jerusalem is one of the most excavated cities on the planet. Since 2010, the “Jerusalem” production team has followed several of the most impressive excavations in and around Jerusalem, documenting their progress as well as the tools used to uncover and understand the past.

The film features renowned archaeologist and religious studies professor Dr. Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who explains the many layers that chronicle this crossroads of civilizations. In the film, Magness leads a group of students through an ancient water tunnel beneath the biblical-era city, which conveyed water from the Gihon Spring outside the city walls to the residents in the event of a siege by an invading army. She also gives audiences a tour of excavations around the Western Wall, marveling at one of the greatest feats of engineering in the ancient world.

Audiences will also meet three teenagers who call Jerusalem home — Farah Ammouri, Revital Zacharie and Nadia Tadros — from each of the three major world religions that share the Old City. From the Damascus Gate and the Dome of the Rock, to the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the girls each reveal the Holy City from their own perspective. 

For those of the Jewish faith, Jerusalem represents their homeland. Every synagogue in the world faces Jerusalem, and three times a day, Jews pray toward the temples that once stood here above “the Kotel” or Western Wall. They believe prayers pass through the Kotel to God.

For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus was arrested and sentenced to death nearby in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Via Dolorosa, or “Way of Sorrows,” is said to be the path Jesus took on his way to crucifixion.

For Muslims, Jerusalem is the city of the prophets. Muslims believe Mohammed was taken on a miraculous journey from Mecca to Jerusalem where he ascended to heaven on a ladder of light, which they associate with the “Dome of the Rock.”

Using the highest-resolution cinematography, “Jerusalem” captures each of these beloved places and takes audiences there as never before.

The 43-minute large-format film was executive-produced by the late Jake Eberts, legendary producer of movies such as “Gandhi,” “Chariots of Fire” and “Dances with Wolves’” and produced by Taran Davies, George Duffield and Ferguson. Large-format industry veteran Reed Smoot, ASC, was director of photography.

IMAX tickets are $13 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, $11 for children 12 and younger, and $8 for museum members. Upgrade to a Value Pass (which includes IMAX and museum admission) to see Winter Wonderland and enjoy two great global experiences with one visit. (See Value Pass prices at

Fernbank Museum of Natural History and the five-story-tall Rankin M. Smith Sr. IMAX Theatre are at 767 Clifton Road NE in Atlanta. Tickets and visitor information are available at and 404-929-6300.

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