A riveting portrait of the great writer whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness tells the tale of the ... See full summary »
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A riveting portrait of the great writer whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness tells the tale of the rebellious genius who created an entirely new literature. Plumbing the depths of a Jewish world locked in crisis and on the cusp of profound change, he captured that world with brilliant humor. Sholem Aleichem was not just a witness to the creation of a new modern Jewish identity, but one of the very men who forged it. Written by
This should have been designed for a wider audience but was still a very well made film.
This biography and discussion of the work of Sholom Aleichem is very well made. However, you can tell that the filmmaker assumed that only Jewish people would want to watch the documentary, as MANY of the folks being interviewed talk about Jewish traditions or use Yiddish words that a non-Jewish audience would very possibly not understand. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood and so I know about sitting shiva, shabbat and words like goyim and shtetl. But it seemed very strange that the film did not explain these things (and much more). In fact, there are probably many Jewish people who have lost contact with their Jewishness who don't understand everything these experts say. It's a shame, as Gentile audiences would benefit from learning about Sholem Aleichem as well--especially since "Fiddler on the Roof" (made up of various stories by Aleichem and starring his character 'Tevya') was a hugely popular film embraced by a wide audience, not just Jews. It's really a shame, as the documentary was otherwise exceptionally well made and interesting. Because of this, I give it a qualified recommendation.
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