The Dybbuk
Der Dibuk

Poland, 1937, 123 minutes, B&W
Yiddish with new English subtitles
Directed by Michal Waszynski
Based on the play by S. Ansky

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" 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

"... 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

Awards
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Boston Society of Film Critics Award - Best Discovery/Re-Discovery 1989

One of the Top 10 Jewish Films as selected by Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition. Link

Synopsis
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NCJF Program Notes (PDF) Link

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 World War II.

Credits
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Cast
Tsaddik of Miropole Avrom Morewski
The Messenger Isaac Samberg
Sender Moyshe Lipman
Leah, His Daughter Lili Liliana
Frayde, His Sister Dina Halpern
Nisn Gershon Lemberger
Khonnon, His Son Leon Liebgold
Note Max Bozyk
Zalmen Shmuel Landau
Nakhmen Samuel Bronecki
Menashe, His Son M. Messinger
Reb Mendel, His Tutor Zishe Katz
Mikhoel, The Gabbai Abraham Kurtz
Meyer, The Shammes David Lederman
Dancer Of Death Judith Berg

Crew
Production Company Feniks
Director Michal Waszynski
Screenplay Alter Kacyzne & Mark Arnshteyn
Based on the Original Play By S. Ansky
Script A. Stern
Artistic Director Mark Arnshteyn
Historical Advisor Majer Balaban
Cinematography Albert Wywerka
Music Henekh Kon
Cantorial Music Gershon Sirota
Choreography Judith Berg
Set Design Rotmil & Norris
Photography A. Arnold
Camera L. Zajaczkowski
Laboratory Falanga

Related Films

A Vilna Legend

The Vow

 

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