The Dybbuk from the archives of The National Center for Jewish Film
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.
Poland, 1937, 123 minutes, B&W
Yiddish with new English subtitles
Directed by Michal Waszynski
Based on the play by S. Ansky