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Vittorio De Sica
In a Polish shtetl, two young men who have grown up together betrothe their unborn children, ignoring the advice of a mysterious traveler not to pledge the lives of future generations. Soon after, one of them dies, and the wife of the other dies in childbirth. The children grow up in different towns, without ever knowing of the betrothal, but the power of the vow leads them to meet each other when they are marriageable. The young woman, Leah, is promised to another man, but Channon, the son of the father who died, is a practitioner of mysticism, and seeks to win his bride through sorcery. Written by
Dan Gilman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sometime in the past, perhaps in the late 19th century, two best friends make a pledge that their children will marry if they should have a son and daughter. A mysterious messenger warns them against pledging the lives of the unborn, but he's ignored with the observation that Jews have always done this. The two men do have a son and daughter, but not without tragedy falling upon both their generation and the next.
This movie is very difficult to follow at the start, with each scene being little more than a one line synopsis of the events eventually leading up to the main story, the ill-fated romance between the son and daughter. The story has an unusual twist not found elsewhere, that of the son becoming a Dybbuk, but there otherwise isn't all that much of interest in the plot or the way it's told as it slowly plods along to its predictable conclusion.
What is interesting, of course, is watching the unique look and feel of a Yiddish movie made by Polish Jews in the 1930s. Much of the imagery is very striking and it's a rare chance to hear a full dose of authentic religious Jewish singing, something which never makes it into American films because of its lack of commercial appeal. The film definitely provides a rewarding experience to viewers who don't necessarily need the entertainment of a good story to keep them interested in the intriguing sights and sounds found in this film.
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