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The Dybbuk


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Product Details

  • Actors: Abraham Morewski, Isaac Samberg, Moshe Lipmann, Lili Liliana, Dina Halpern
  • Directors: Michal Waszynski
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Feniks Productions/ National Center for Jewish Film
  • DVD Release Date: September 29, 1937
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00945A5P2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,300 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

IN YIDDISH WITH RESTORED ENGLISH SUBTITLES The Dybbuk is a Yiddish film classic based on the celebrated play of the same name by S. Ansky, written during the turbulent years of 1912-1917. The idea for the play came to Ansky as he led a Jewish folklore expedition through small towns of Eastern Europe, which was cut short by the outbreak of World War I. The Dybbuk reflects Ansky's deep perception of the shtetl's religious and cultural mores, as well as his insightful appreciation of its hidden spiritual resources. Plans to produce the play in Russian by Stanislavsky's Moscow Art Theater in 1920 were aborted by the Bolshevik Revolution. Ansky, who died in 1920 never lived to see his play produced. The play however, was destined to become one of the most widely-produced in the history of Jewish theater. Its rich ethnographic tapestry, mystical themes, star-crossed lovers and haunting melodies were designed to bridge the historical abyss. Boundaries separating the natural from the supernatural dissolve as ill-fated pledges, unfulfilled passions and untimely deaths ensnare two families in a tragic labyrinth of spiritual possession. The film was made on location in Poland in 1937 and brought together the best talents of Polish Jewry, script writers, composers, choreographers, set designers, actors and historical advisors. The film's exquisite musical and dance interludes evoke the cultural richness of both shtetl communities and Polish Jewry on the eve of WWII.

Review

One of the Top 10 Jewish Films. --Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times/ NPR film critic

"...the most ambitious Yiddish movie of its day... In fact, The Dybbuk is a time capsule... Drama intensifies a given moment, film freezes it. Whatever the movie's original intentions, events have dictated that its themes will be read as harbingers of exile and oblivion." --J. Hoberman, Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds

"... one of the most solemn attestations to the mystic powers of the spirit the imagination has ever purveyed to the film reel." --Parker Tyler, Classics of the Foreign Film, New York; Citadel 1962

Customer Reviews

The subtitles are horrible; they are from the original print.
Andrew
Sadly, Leah's father never learns of the birth of Hannan because Hannan's father tragically dies at sea before even he can witness the birth of his own child.
Steve Reina
Filled with magic, superstition and Jewish mysticism, it is a veritable compendium of Yiddish culture, religious practice and belief.
Brian E. Erland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Yvan Koenig on March 12, 2006
Format: DVD
This film is exceptionnal. Not only it was shot in yiddish in Poland four years before Hitler's agression, but also it relates a fantastic story of love beyond life and death, good and evil in a mystic community of religious Jews (hassidim). Eventually, the actors and the scipt are excellent, and the religious songs strongly emphasize the mysticism of the story. It's a real "chef-d'oeuvre", an ultimate cry of love in a world condamned to disappear, and the dance of the bride with the death has a prophetic flavour.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on October 9, 2008
Format: DVD
I saw this film several years ago in NYC when it was first restored by the National Center for Jewish Film, and it was an incredible job. Their DVD is the one to get. I bought Bel Canto's VHS version, and it had the same captioning (rather, NON-captioning) problems that their DVD here apparently has.

The movie is simply incredible and powerful. Highly recommended. But NCJF's version is best. Fully captioned, and contains all extant footage.
[...]
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Note: Yiddish with English subtitles.

`The Dybbuk', released in '37 is a cinematic time capsule providing the viewer with a mesmerizing glimpse into a world that no longer exists. While '37 was a long time ago (70 years come 01/07) the film has a feel, no an atmosphere, that seems much older. Filled with magic, superstition and Jewish mysticism, it is a veritable compendium of Yiddish culture, religious practice and belief. While such subject matters will clearly command the attention of a very select audience it is an immensely important film nevertheless.

Synopsis: Two young people, Leah (Lili Liliana) and Channon (Leon Liebgold), fall hopelessly in love but are unable to wed because Leah's Father plans for her to wed a wealthier suitor. Heartbroken, Channon turns from his pious ways and calls upon the "Powers of Darkness" to come to his rescue and help him secure his desired bride. Unfortunately Satan isn't in the business of bringing young lovers together to live happily ever after. Only sadness and grief lie ahead.

This is really quite a watch, kind of an Ingmar Bergman's 'The Seventh Seal' meets `Fiddler On The Roof' with a little touch of `The Exorcist' thrown in for good measure. Definitely not for everyone, but if you're in the mood for something totally different and are willing to put in the time and attention to explore the darker teachings of Kabala and Jewish mysticism this will serve as a great primer.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By MRX on September 5, 2005
Format: DVD
My rating of four stars reflects the dvd transfer of this movie. While the movie is a part of film history and itself worthy of five stars, the restoration of the movie leaves a lot to be desired. The movie is in Yiddish, with English subtitles. This film being black and white, it is very hard to read the white subtitles. It would have been easier to read if the subtitles were yellow.

Channon falls in love with Leah. Unbeknownst to them, but knownst to us, their parents made a sacred pact that if one fathered a boy and the other a girl, they would be wed. One father dies and years later, the pact is forgotten about. I will not give away the rest of the story, but this movie has a lot to do with Kabbalah and numerology, as well as the interesting topic of exorcisms within the Jewish faith. It also has a character that can dissappear and reappear at will and also communicate with the dead.

This is a truly interesting film. I suggest this to anyone interested in Yiddish, as well as those interested in Kabbalah/Jewish Mysticism.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steve Reina VINE VOICE on January 3, 2012
Format: DVD
Just two years before the Nazis would goosestep across Poland, Poland's Yiddish theatre produced perhaps its finest film classic: The Dybbyuk or Between Two Worlds (Yid. ''' ''''' ''''' '''''' ''''' '''''', Der dibuk oder tsvishn tsvey veltn).

Based on a 1914 play by S. Ansky, The Dybbuk is the musical 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.

Unlike the theatrical version of The Dybbuk, the film version begins before the main characters -- Hannan and Leah -- are even born when their fathers make a sacred vow that their children will be married. As part of sealing this vow Hannan's father does a beautiful recitation from The Song of Songs. In this way, among others, music is very much a part of the telling of this haunting story.

Sadly, Leah's father never learns of the birth of Hannan because Hannan's father tragically dies at sea before even he can witness the birth of his own child.

Later in life, Hannan, now a brilliant talmudic scholar, falls in love with Leah, and even meets her father Sender. For his part, Sender is unaware that Hannan is actually his dead friend's son and therefore his daughter's marriage match.

Because Sender is a rich merchant he opposes a marriage between the two, as he prefers a rich suitor for his daughter.
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