Monday, August 08, 2011

"Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness"

"Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness" is a beautifully made documentary film that sets the record straight in a thoughtful, incisive way. Director Joseph Dorman has successfully combined artfully chosen archival material and perceptive interviews with some of the best thinkers in the Yiddish world, including academics Dan Miron, David Roskies and Ruth Wisse; translator Hillel Halkin; the National Yiddish Book Center's Aaron Lansky; and author Bel Kaufman, Sholem Aleichem's 100-year-old granddaughter.

The result is more than an examination of the contradictory life of the celebrated humorist and storyteller, it's a compelling cinematic look at the complex world of Eastern European Jews. Those who remember Dorman's last film, the excellent "Arguing the World," an examination of such midcentury New York Jewish thinkers as Daniel Bell and Irving Howe, will not be surprised.

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