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Image Before My Eyes - A History of Jewish Life in Poland Before the Holocaust (1981)

Joshua Waletzky  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Image Before My Eyes - A History of Jewish Life in Poland Before the Holocaust + Yiddish World Remembered + Frontline: Shtetl
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Product Details

  • Directors: Joshua Waletzky
  • Writers: Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Jerome Badanes, Lucjan Dobroszycki
  • Producers: Susan Lazarus
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: April 25, 2006
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CRR3J2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,044 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Image Before My Eyes - A History of Jewish Life in Poland Before the Holocaust" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary with Director Josh Waltzky
  • Illustrated Study Guide with background, bibliography and key questions for discussion
  • Filmmaker Biography
  • Interactive Menus
  • Scene Selection

Editorial Reviews

A stunning commemoration of Jews in Poland before the two World Wars, IMAGE BEFORE MY EYES pays homage to the dynamic and vibrant society of 3.5 million people that was destroyed during the Holocaust. Unearthing the stories of Jewish villagers, aristocrats, socialists, Zionists, and artists who fashioned a thriving civilization with a 900-year history, this triumphant films draws on the sacred and rare artifacts of a crushed world-home movies, forgotten song recordings, and the evocative memories of survivors-to recreate Jewish Poland. Tracing the subtle contours of Jewish Diaspora, IMAGE BEFORE MY EYES visits people as varied as a former mayor of Scarsdale, New York describing his youthful Polish patriotism and a Brooklyn housewife who touchingly sings the Yiddish songs of teachers, tradesmen, and beggars she learned as a child in Warsaw.

From the bucolic, traditional shtetls of the countryside to the freewheeling cultural revolution in the cities led by freethinkers, award-winning director Josh Waletzky (Partisans of Vilna) masterfully memorializes a proud culture that still inspires hope and reverence.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A poignant look at a vanished world February 27, 2007
Format:DVD
Image Before My Eyes: A History of Jewish Life in Poland combines historical footage, still photographs, and live interviews for an in-depth reminiscence of Jewish life in Poland from the beginning of the 20th century until the Holocaust.

It features a deeper look at the rise of many social and religious movements such as socialist groups and Zionism, rural and urban Polish Jewish life, and the flourishing of Yiddish culture through literature, theater and music.

The documentary was released over twenty years ago, so the video interviews are obviously dated (late 1970's), and some of the archival footage is in poor condition, but Image Before My Eyes restores us to a vanished world -- the vibrant cultural legacy of Poland's 3.5 million Jews that was nearly wiped out by the Holocaust.

The DVD includes a commentary with director Josh Waltzky, an illustrated study guide with discussion questions, and scene selection.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
"Image Before My Eyes" is a searing and vivid account of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, primarily Poland, from the beginning of the 20th century to the Holocaust. The documentary is made up of archival film footage, still photographs, and live interviews with Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. Their testimony lends an authentic and compelling voice to the narration of lives led by the Jews in Poland before the horrors of the Holocaust.

In 1939, there were 3.5 million Jews in Poland and at the end of WW II, only 250,000 survived. A rich cultural tradition, 900 years long, was practically decimated by the Nazis and their collaborators. In Part One "The Setting", viewers are provided a glimpse of Poland before WW I. Farming was the main economic activity, especially amongst the Gentiles. There were not many Jews in the farming villages, and most Jews resided in towns or shtetls. Video reels of the period (the quality may not be very clear, but the fact that these evidence of vibrant Jewish life actually survived the war is a marvel in itself) portray life in the shtetls - the sense of camaraderie and community is strong. One survivor, Chiena Kossowksy recalls life in one such shtetl, her voice lending credence to what was and is now gone forever. Photographs of monumental wooden synagogues which were a hallmark of Jewish life in the shtetls show viewers the magnitude of the loss, as they were destroyed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust. Also interesting is the contrast between the shtetl Jews and the city Jews.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a look into the past February 8, 2007
Format:DVD
The images speak to one. This compilation of pre world war II Jewish Polish daily life is gripping. This is a DVD that we will watch over and over.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My humble opinion on Image Before my Eyes October 28, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I totaly enjoyed this film. It portrays the life as my grandparents and their respective families have lived as told to me in my youth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Image Before My Eyes. May 24, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This documentary is, as far as I know, the only one available for this period of time. A fascinating presentation by the YIVO
The only negative thought was that the length was too, much too, short. Wish there was more.
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