Jossef Tawila, the legendary tar player of the band Ensemble Tourqouise along with Avram Mufradi composed the Crying Spring Symphony. In the debut evening of the symphony's playing a car ...
See full summary »
Azulai is a policeman in Jaffa, whose incompetence is only matched by his soft-heartedness. His superiors want to send him to early retirement, but he would like to stay on the force, and ... See full summary »
Gote and Eli are two aging friends who don't want to age. Gote is a lifeguard who's fighting peepers on the Tel-Aviv beach. Eli is a guitar player who dreams of building a night club in Altman's restaurant.
In ha-Argazim, a neighborhood that time forgot, the one-year anniversary of Morris Mandabon's death is approaching, and his youngest son, Nissim has had a dream in which his father orders ... See full summary »
The story is about two twin brothers, Azriel and Gavriel (both played by Yehuda Barkan). Azriel is a shy and religious Jew who works in a fruit shop in Jaffa. Gavriel, is a hoodlum and a ... See full summary »
As a family from India moves in to a desert neighborhood in Southern Israel in the 1960's, the family's eldest, beautiful daughter discovers friendship and romance with the lovely local ... See full summary »
Zaza is a 31-year old Israeli bachelor, handsome and intelligent, and his family wants to see him married. But tradition dictates that Zaza has to choose a young virgin. She must be ... See full summary »
Jossef Tawila, the legendary tar player of the band Ensemble Tourqouise along with Avram Mufradi composed the Crying Spring Symphony. In the debut evening of the symphony's playing a car accident occurred, as Tawila fell during driving, killing two of the orchestra's members. Surviving the accident, Tawila, Avram Mufradi and Margaret (Tawila's spouse, being the band's singer), who turned to a wheel chair invalid. Tawila is judges and sentences for a few imprisonment years. After his release from jail he abandons his beloved one and music, opens a pub and sinks into a depression. The movie describes the happenings twenty years after the accident. One day on Tawila's threshold appears Amram, Avram Mufradi's son, telling him his father is dying of cancer and asking him to complete assemble an ensemble that will play The Crying Spring Symphony. Tawila decides to make his old friend's last wish come true and goes out to extract the best players for an ensemble to play the piece before his ... Written by
A dying man calls in his marker in the Benny Toraty's 2012 award winning 'Ballad of the Weeping Spring'.
In a way the film is remarkable since its focus is on Arab and Iranian Jews in Israel Israel. Furthermore, no Jew of European origin is part of the script, which makes the story even more unusual and surprising.
Toraty's intention was to make this film a description of the social glue that held the Arab and Iranian Jews in today's Israel as expressed through traditional Arab music. It is an expression of cultural ties that have resisted the 'Europeanization' of a large community of peoples from the Middle East and North Africa. It is an anchor to a culturally rich past that remains, on the whole, to Arab Jews, that evokes a spiritual if not sentimental or nostalgic recall of lands they lived in for centuries before emigrating, for the most part, to Israel after it creation. The film, in its own, way is saying the past matters.
The story line is straightforward. The dying of cancer Avram send his son Amran on a mission to seek out Yosef Tawila, who composed with him the Ballad of the Crying Spring, to fulfill his promise that he would play as he was dying.
Now, Tawila, a stubborn recluse, for 20 years, has never stopped wearing a hair shirt, atoning for breaking the popular Ensemble Tourqouise. He feels doubly guilty because he fell asleep at the wheel of the automobile that crashed. He blames him for the murder of two members of the Ensemble, as well as crippling from the waist down its singer Margaret.
It is through music that Tawila redeems himself. And he sets off on a quest with Amran to assemble an ensemble of eight musicians and a singer to honor his pledge to they dying Mufredi.
It is this noble quest that 'Ballad of the Weeping Spring' bears a very mild comparison to Akira Kurozawa's 'Seven Samurai' and John Landis' 'Magnificent Seven'; there ends the comparison, and we should not put weight behind the false analogy.
What should hold our fascination is the projection of stereotypes of Arab Jews, which subsist almost 70 years after the founding of Israel.
You can say they live in a version of Gershwin's 'Catfish Row'. They inhabit traditional dwellings that we normally associated with life in Arab medinas (quarters). Massive wooden doors and no windows that keep the outside world from life within houses.. Walls are unadorned and made of stone, and unadorned for the most part.
By dress , they are of the working class. They speak Hebrew, with a few words of Arabic, but not much. They are exotic and highly sexual. The bride Rifkah is a fearsome Amazon and an eater of men. Her brothers are beefy and brawny and project an image not only of strength as bouncers but muscles that could disrupt social order.
The inhabitants of this ghetto world are therefore dangerous, dishonest and deal in questionable practices, on the whole.
And they like arak and love music, Bruria, the cantina owner, with a low cut bodice and a red dress sings with boundless boldness as she dances. And the male dancer wiggles like an erect cobra as he hypnotically performs his gyration, much in the manner the Americans used to think of Blacks shucking and sliding, for example.
The way Tawila 'collects' his eight musicians and female singer has it twists and turns and mild frissons of danger and adventure.
Saying this, we become acquainted with the instruments that make up the 'orchestra': oud (mandolin), nay (flute) and violin, and one main percussion instrument riq (drum), as well as flute, as well as kamanjah (traditional violin), supplemented with another traditional violin and a cello. The singer has a wide range of voice, high and at times piercing, with an ability to trill.
More, a violinist has a tattoo of the famous singer and heartthrob of the Golden Age of Egyptian cinema, Farid al-Atrashe on his arm. An interesting detail that tells us of the attachment to Arab Jewish roots to the music of the lands yhey once lived in for centuries.
And for good measure, Torarty throws in an Arab or a Druze, a talented by token. It is this gesture as well that is a link to a common musical heritage shared by Arab and Jew alike.
Tawila honors his pledge to Avram in a cave that will serve as Mufradi's sepulcher, a recall of ancient burial grottoes and caves.
As the ballad is played, Avram smiles, listens and then succumbs to his cancer.
In the final scene, in single file, the ensemble in single file march in the dying embers of the day, heads help up and proud of have kept gage and tradition and to a future that might portend a new Ensemble Tourquoise, but we cannot say for sure.
Heart stirring, and at times funny, in spite of the finality of life, 'Ballad of the Weeping Spring' is not a death knell of Arab Jewish music. It is sung today among say Jews from Morocco, Algeria and Tunis, at concerts, marriages and other rites.
The film, despite oversimplified notions of Jews from the Arab world, tells us something of a world too easily dismissed even in Israel
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?