Saturday, February 20, 2010

New to the MOFH Film Series: The "Dance of Death" from "The Dybbuk"

From February 20 to March 7, The Museum of Family History's Yiddish World presents --
The "Dance of Death" from "The Dybbuk," a 1937 Yiddish film:

"From the 1937 Yiddish film, directed by Michal Waszynski, original music by Henoch Kon. The Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds (Yid. דער דיבוק אדער צווישן צוויי וועלטן) is a 1914 play by S. Ansky, relating the story of a young bride possessed by a dybbuk — a malicious possessing spirit, believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person — on the eve of her wedding.

The Dybbuk, is considered a seminal play in the history of Jewish theater, and played an important role in the development of Yiddish theatre and theatre in Israel. The play was based on years of research by S. Ansky, who travelled between Jewish shtetls in Russia and Ukraine, documenting folk beliefs and stories of the Hassidic Jews.

In 1937, the play, with some changes in the plot structure, was filmed by director Michał Waszyński in Warsaw, starring Lili Liliana as Leah, Leon Liebgold as Hannan (Channon, in the English-language subtitles), and Avrom Morevski as Rabbi Azrael ben Hodos. The film adds an additional act before those in the original play: it shows the close friendship of Sender and Nisn as young men. Besides the language of the film itself, the picture is noted among film historians for the striking scene of Leah's wedding, which is shot in the style of German Expressionism. The film is generally considered one of the finest in the Yiddish language.

The Dybbuk was filmed on location in Kazimierz, Poland, and in a Warsaw studio, in 1937."

Video and description from YouTube.

The film clip can be found at .

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