Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Great film, but nearly unknown, and hard to come by. In order to show it to the "Religion in Dialogue" class I had to buy a copy, since none of our libraries (not to mention Netflix) had it. Read the original story by Chaim Grade, "My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyner," on which the film is based (there was a stage adaptation along the way, too), and I think the film's much more effective - certainly for a class on dialogue! In the story, secular writer Hersh and super frum rebbe Chaim - friends from childhood who have seen each other only rarely since Chaim left the yeshiva, and as their world was destroyed by Soviets and Nazis - sit side by side in front of the old Hôtel de Ville in Paris; Hersh gives a long speech, then Chaim does, the end. The film, directed by Eli Cohen, is much warmer and in its way more optimistic about alternatives to mutual judgment - perhaps because the world had changed again between 1954, when the story was written, and 1990, when the film appeared. Chaim and Hersh meet in a park in Montréal and walk together, see other walkers, lose their way, get caught in the rain, part ways and come together again, and even dance. The unspoken, perhaps unspeakable, has a visible part.