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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
For this film, Barbra Streisand became the first woman ever to win the Golden Globe for Best Director. She was later nominated for Best Director at both the Golden Globes and Directors Guild of America Awards for The Prince of Tides (1991). She has to this day never been nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards but handed out the Oscar for Best Director the first and only time it has been won by a woman (by Kathryn Bigelow). See more »
When Yentl sings "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" her glasses are laid down in front of her. They have modern temple and ear pieces. In other scenes Yentl's glasses are the old-fashioned, wrap-around-the-ear-style glasses. See more »
Barbra Streisand has referred to herself as 'an actress who happens to be a singer'. I doubt I am alone in viewing her professional legacy in the reverse: as a great singer who happens to be an actress . . . director, producer, screenplay writer, musical score composer, humanitarian, and lately, concerned with using her production and direction talents to bring out important social issues (like ageism--"The Living Century" is about centurions--people a hundred years old or more).
"Yentl" marks the beginning of a woman blazing a new trail as a director, singer, composer, her hands in the screenplay, and production. She's spoken in a segment on "The Directors," about how various cultures have treated her as a result of her deliberate transcendence of Hollywood's gender-biased boundaries. One of her most interesting points reveals how well she was treated in England by the British filming crew. Since gender-bias against women is not even comparable to gender bias in the US, because England is so far advanced beyond gender discrimination because one is a woman, Streisand remarks how much easier it was for her to accomplish her goals on the set because the British film crew treated her without gender-bias, and with the respect she is certainly due.
"Yentl" royally upset the AFI in the US because Streisand entered into no woman's land when she had a hand in nearly every aspect of the motion picture. "Yentl" has some of the most memorable, touching, humanely familiar music and lyrics, yet it received no Academy Award. The direction was brilliant--no Academy Award. The screenplay was one that was serious, hilarious, religious, spiritual, and even addressed the issues of gender-bias head on--no Academy Award. Streisand's and Amy Irving's acting was stupendous--no Academy Award.
Streisand paved the way and took the non-recognition by the Film Academy without stopping. This musical motional picture pales many that are classics. The story is an extra interesting one, the likes of which have not been reproduced with anything close to as much skill and class.
I'll give this classic about six Academy Awards, including several that go to Streisand alone.
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