My Father My Lord
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A heartbreakingly tender (New York Times) new entry into Israel s ongoing filmmaking renaissance, My Father My Lord is an anguished, mordant sigh of a fable (New York Sun) set in the ultra-orthodox Israeli community in which writer-director Volach was raised. This astonishing debut feature (Variety) is a beautifully made film (Newsday) portraying childhood at its most transcendent and fundamentalism at its most intimately corrosive. We do everything in the Torah without asking why, Rabbi Eidelman (Assi Dayan), a pious, respected elder in a cloistered Hasidic enclave tells his wonderstruck only son Menahem (Ilan Grif). But at an age where life prompts questions increasingly outside the confines of doctrine, Menahem unwittingly runs afoul of his father s inflexibility. Mindful of her marriage vows but accepting of her son s boyish curiosity, Rabbi Eidelman s wife Esther (Sharon Hacohen Bar) is caught in the middle. A holiday at the seashore meant to reconnect the family brings the ideological rift between pre-teen boy and middle-aged man to a biblically and dramatically tragic climax. Lifting equally from the secular religiosity of Krzysztof Kieslowski s The Decalogue and the aesthetics of Jewish ritual itself (Village Voice), and profoundly compassionate toward its characters (NY Times), My Father My Lord shines with a radiance and grave grace. (Entertainment Weekly)
Top Customer Reviews
His world view can be seen in two of many well acted episodes. The Bible states that when a person comes across a mother bird sitting on eggs or chicks and the person wants to take the eggs or chicks, the person must first chase away the mother bird. The Bible commentators explain that this is done either to avoid hurting the feelings of the mother bird or to teach humans to be kind to one another. This rabbi misunderstands. He is convinced that the Torah obligates Jews to chase away a mother bird whenever they see her sitting by chicks, whether they want to take the chicks or not. He does this and causes unnecessary pain to the mother bird.
Another example is his sermon to his congregation where he chauvinistically and improperly teaches that God only watches and aids pious Jews, no one else. All other people, he teaches, were created to make life easy for pious Jews.
The film maker shows how his misguided understanding results in a terrible tragedy.
I saw this film at the Tribecca Film festival and had the privilege of hearing the director talk about his work. All the people involved in the production were Israeli, of course, but they were not necessarily Orthodox. All the details included in the film made the story very real. And the ending raised the kind of open-ended moral question that resonated with me long after I left the theater.
I am glad the this film is finally getting wide distribution. But even if it hadn't made it, this filmmaker clearly has a gift for making films and his future looks bright. Because the film is so sad, I cannot recommend it for everyone. But I sure am glad it is now being sold on Amazon.
"My Father, My Lord" (75 min, originally released in 2007) is a slow-moving movie that portrays an ultra-Orthodox family in their daily doings. The dad is a highly-respected rabbi, the mom a complying wife. They have a young son (I'm guessing 8 yrs old or so), and much of the movie centers around how the young son experiences life growing up in an ultra-Orthodox setting. The movie builds up to a long-anticipated (by the young son) trip to the beach at the Dead Sea. And then the unthinkable happens. I wish the movie would've explored more of the aftermath, as the movie concludes too quickly for my liking.
I visited Israel this past November on a business trip, so my exposure to the Orthodox community was/has been minimal. This movie provides a great glampse into that community. I have to say that I wondered at times if the lead characters were actually actors, or real-life Orthodox persons, that's how real it felt. Despite its shortcomings (included the too-short running time), I'd recommend this movie in a heartbeat. If you are looking for other great Israeli movies in recent years, let me just mention Lemon Tree, Or My Treasure, Free Zone, Tehilim, For My Father, Seven Minutes in Heaven, and of course last Fall's theatrical release Lebanon.
NB: The following contains spoilers, though as few as possible.
Viewers who see or expect to see some kind of systematic attack on Charedi (or Ultra-Orthodox) Judaism in this film are projecting their own agendas onto it. The movie is, in fact, a tremendously affectionate reflection on growing up Charedi in Israel. The affection is evident in the lovely relationship that Menachem has with his parents (please don't try to use the scene with the photograph as a counter argument; surely even the happiest, best adjusted among us were at one point pressured into doing something we didn't want to by our parents) and the general happiness and cheerfulness that Menachem gives off as he goes about his day. Many have tried to blame what happens to Menachem at the end of the film on his father's piety; the worst I think it's fair to do is blame it on a very common lapse in judgment that usually (though not in this case) results in no harm to anyone.
This isn't to say that the film endorses the Charedi way of life, either. The point it makes is more subtle: the film is a meditation on why, ultimately, this community was not one in which Volach could fit. The answer to why is that this community's vision of the world (it's "hashkafa" in Jewish terms) is too narrow and constraining for someone like Menachem (and, by extension, Volach).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Do not watch it at night, because you won't be able to go to sleep after watching it. It's VERY sad.Published 15 days ago by Saba Rasheed
This heartbreaking film takes us deep into an Israeli family's commitment to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish faith, and then watches as disaster strikes. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Lost in Vegas
The ultra-pious in any religion let themselves in for a paradoxical situation. The chauvinism of castigating others for their exclusion from the 'truth' puts them in a position of... Read morePublished on April 9, 2014 by F. Araujo
Here is a perfect film of the conflict between The Law and the awe of a child's wonder. Filmed with the eye of Vermeer, it is constructed with magical simplicity.Published on February 26, 2014 by Catherine Redmond
As the most of movies on a Jewish, especially, Jewish-Orthodox topic, this DVD is heavy overpriced-but for some special reason in this case. Read morePublished on February 11, 2011 by Michael Kerjman
One of the best israelian movie for ten years. The director knows absolutely what he is talking about and is very talented fine and subtile to make it visible on screen. Read morePublished on January 10, 2011 by mariem
A film made with great simplicity and coherence.The orthodox rabbi who leads his Haredi Hassidic community,giving sermons of God's absolute love for humans,who are Jewish and... Read morePublished on January 2, 2011 by technoguy