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Dramatization of "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy," by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991); originally published in Yiddish c. 1960, then in English c. 1983. The story: In an Ashkenazic shtetl in Poland, Yentl Mendel is the boyishly klutzy daughter and only child of long widowed Rebbe ("Talmud Teacher") Mendel, who teaches Talmud (a codification of Jewish Law) to local boys - and to Yentl, but secretly because girls were not allowed to learn the law in those days. When her father dies, Yentl is all alone in the world. She takes the momentous decision to leave the village and - disguised as a boy and calling herself by the name of her late brother, Anshel - seeks and gets admitted to a Yeshiva, to study the texts, traditions, subtleties and complexities of Torah, Talmud, etc. She befriends Avigdor who is engaged to Haddas, but her family discovers his brother committed suicide so they call off the wedding (in case Avigdor possesses the same madness). Anshel then finds "him"-self in the awkward ... Written by
I discovered this film recently when it came out on DVD in France at a knock-down price. Picture quality is no more than average and seems to have a little over-dominance of sepia. I assume the film was originally destined for a Jewish audience as many of the references contained therein concern the Jewish religion of which I know nothing ! All that said, I was very very satisfied with this film, Barbra Steisand gave a magnificent performance, you could see that she put her heart into this, apart from being really cute, her voice and songs were magnificent. There's also quite a lot of humour and potentially embarrassing situations which is normal, given the fairly original plot line. I think that the end is a satisfying one indeed the only satisfying one possible. I know little about Jewish culture but do, as an "outsider" find it attractive. Indeed this may indeed be a prerequisite to fully appreciate this film.
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