The Dovekeepers

Movie review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Dovekeepers Movie Poster Image
Stylish, violent Biblical-style tale is told by women.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 240 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Judaism, God, and persecution are major themes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The women are strong but not perfect. 


The Sicarii are committed to assassinating Romans. Bloody fistfights, knife and sword attacks visible. Rape and suicide are themes. 


Adultery and illicit sexual encounters. Men and women partially undressed. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Dovekeepers, which is based on a novel of the same name, offers a dramatic interpretation of a period in ancient Jewish history, the siege of the Masada. The power of God, Jewish law, and persecution are major themes in this epic miniseries, which contains lots of violent, bloody battle and murder scenes using swords, daggers, and other weapons. There's a partial reenactment of a rape, and suicide, adultery, and bearing children out of wedlock are discussed. 

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What's the story?

Based on Alice Hoffman's bestselling novel of the same name, THE DOVEKEEPERS tells the ancient Jewish story of the siege of Masada from the point of view of three women. When healer Shirah (Cote de Pablo), the independent single mother of tomboy Aziza (Kathryn Prescott), and the beautiful young Yael (Rachel Brosnahan) are brought before the Roman-enslaved historian Flavius Josephus (Sam Neill), they share the details of how they each were forced out of Jerusalem. They describe the subsequent events that led them to the mountain fortress of Masada, the last Sicarii holdout against the Romans at the end of the first Jewish-Roman War. It's there that the three women maintained the settlement's dovecote while preserving their individual secrets and praying that their warriors, including Yael's brother Amram (Diego Boneta) and their leader, Eleazar Ben Ya'ir (Mido Hamada), would continue to hold off the troops led by General Lucius Flavius Silva (Sam Hazeldine).

Is it any good?

If you're a fan of ancient Judaica or faith-based historical dramas, The Dovekeepers has enough to keep you interested, if not wholly entertained. The series, produced by The Bible creators Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, offers a dramatic interpretation of the historical events surrounding the siege of Masada in 73 C.E., during which time the Sicariis (a Jewish sect committed to systematically and violently fighting Romans until the death) fled to a remote Judean desert mountain citadel a thousand feet high to avoid the Empire's persecution. The story is told as a series of personal flashbacks, which incorporate narratives of romantic entanglements, the trials of motherhood, and unfulfilled dreams while living under the shadow of probable annihilation.

It's long, theatrical, and hyperstylized to reinforce the mythic nature of the tale, which has become controversial thanks to the alternative interpretations of events offered by historians and religious scholars. As a result, those who are familiar with the story may take issue with the way the outcome is presented. Folks unfamiliar with it may find themselves struggling to understand the events that unfold.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the significance of stories such as this one. Why do some people believe they're myths or only partially true, while others consider them factual?

  • What do you think about violent or sexual content in religious stories? Why do you think some tellings gloss over these subjects?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love religious epics

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