Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness (2011)
Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 38
Fresh: 38 | Rotten: 0
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Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 0
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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 609
A riveting portrait of the great writer whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness tells the tale of the rebellious genius who created an entirely new literature. Plumbing the depths of a Jewish world locked in crisis and on the cusp of profound change, he captured that world with brilliant humor. Sholem Aleichem was not just a witness to the creation of a new modern Jewish identity, but one of the very men who forged it.
Jul 8, 2011 Limited
Mar 11, 2013
International Film Circuit - Official Site
Watch It Now
Not often does a film double as a literary critic, but this is the Northrop Frye of docs. Essentially, it revises and sharpens the blunted reputation of a great writer.
Audiences interested in Jewish literature will find Laughing in the Darkness compelling for its deep analysis of Aleichem's works, featuring a selection of experts and the writer's granddaughter, Bel Kaufman.
The film adroitly sets the writer's works, his triumphs and tribulations, against the backdrop of a tumultuous period for European Jewry.
Dorman makes the case that Aleichem is the source from whence flows modern Jewish humor.
In the end, you're certainly inspired to read Aleichem, but not necessarily to watch Dorman's film again.
Throughout the film, Dorman uses ethnographic and silent-cinema footage, along with ubiquitous klezmer music, to paint a picture of the era.
.... a thoughtful, if also conventional, overview of Aleichem's life and work, mixing straight history and biography with quotations from his writings...
It's a history lesson that also shows art informing the events, even changing them.
One needn't be a student of the history or literature of the period to appreciate this excellent portrait of a fascinating and important figure.
Dorman's portrait is engrossing, but his Ken Burns style doesn't match his subject's vitality.
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