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The Wandering Jew (1904)

Le juif errant (original title)
| Short, Drama
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1.33 : 1
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Remade as The Wandering Jew (1933) See more »

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Well done for 1904
20 September 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

It's hard to really understand this film unless you turn on the optional commentary track. It begins with an old Jewish man struggling as he walks. You learn, through the use of a double-exposure, that the man witnessed Christ being led to the crucifixion and refused him water. Now, he's cursed to wander through eternity--and there is no let up to his misery. He sees what he's done repeatedly, is attacked by Satan and the elements conspire against him--all in repayment for his sin.

While the set appears very crudely done (almost quaint), this is the norm for 1904--and that is why it all appears very stagy. But, it makes nice use of the double-exposure and is decent for its time.

I wondered, however, if this was film was perhaps based on some folk tale (I've never heard of it). So I checked and found the story began sometime around the 13th century and the man was cursed to do this until Christ's second coming. Perhaps this story was created to explain the displaced Jewish people (who had no homeland for almost 1900 years) or was in some way antisemitic--I have no idea. But here in the States, it's a story I would assume very, very few would recognize.


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