It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have, namely on Hester Street on the Lower East ...
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Lesley Ann Warren
It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have, namely on Hester Street on the Lower East Side of New York City. He has assimilated to American life, having learned English, anglicized his name to Jake, and shaved off his beard. He is working at a $12/week job as a seamster, the money earned to be able to bring his wife Gitl and his son Yossele to America from Russia. Regardless, he has fallen in love with another woman, a dancer named Mamie Fein. Nonetheless, he is excited when he learns that Gitl and Yossele are indeed coming to America. His happiness at their arrival is dampened when he sees that Gitl is not "American" looking like Mamie and has troubles assimilating as quickly as he would like. Except to Mamie, he tries to show a public façade that everything is fine at home with Gitl. But can their marriage survive these differences, and if not, will Gitl be able to manage in this new...Written by
Director Joan Micklin Silver said of this film to 'American Film' magazine in 1989: "I thought, I'm going to make [a film] that will count for my family. My parents were Russian Jewish, and my father was no longer living, but I cared a lot about the ties I had to that world. So that was how Hester Street (1975) started." See more »
After Mamie leaves Jake's apartment after meeting Gitl for the first time, they're talking in the stairwell. Mamie's left earring falls off as they're talking and she leaves without it. See more »
Gitl, you are in America now. In America they don't wear wigs.
No, I have a kerchief.
They don't wear kerchiefs either!
Yankel, I can't go around in my own hair. I'm a married woman.
Alright, put on the kerchief.
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Its not true that there as many ways of seeing a movie as there are people. The art depends on there being only a few ways.
But still, you have choices. If what you want is a dramatic exercise you may like this, because that's its intent.
But it relies on storytelling gimmicks that you have to decide how to take.
The story is about Jewish Immigrants in New York in the 1890s, and one husband and wife. I chose to see it as an adventure into a world I do not know. It rewarded somewhat, perhaps less so than "The Jazz Singer" which was made near that era by people who lived in it. Here, all the clothes, faces, teeth are clean. There's no defecation and disease, no Jewish mafia and petty crime Jew-on-Jew. No bad people of any kind in fact. Somehow, squalor, crime and deprivation have been erased from history. Everyone on the street is happy.
Still, it was a voyage for me. But the film announces otherwise. It depends on memory of that very same stuff that I valued because I don't have them. In fact, this film seems to have been made by Jews for Jews, and mostly shown in Jewish venues rather than general release. Its a celebration of strength and adaptation, of the new layered on a preserved old, of the supposed special nature of these self-proclaimed special people.
So its a bit schitzo: part theme park and part nostalgic history lesson for those in the history. Too bad, because Carl Kane was engaging.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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