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A Serious Man – a spoiler free invitation

November 22, 2009 – 9:42 am12 Comments

a-serious-man-posterBy Anthony Frosh

Last night I went along with RachSD to see the new film by the Coen brothers, A Serious Man.  On a night where we experienced weather that had an almost biblical feel – in Melbourne, the end of Shabbat has brought a drought-breaking rain, a rain that is still continuing as I write this Sunday morning, and seemingly has not abated once since sunset last night – it seemed apt to see a film based, albeit loosely, on book from the Tanakh.  In this case it is the Book of Job (Iyov) set in the spring of 1967 in Jewish Minnesota.  In addition to the bible, the film also appears to draw inspiration from the Yiddish literature of the shtetl (and I am not merely referring to the film’s prologue), and as RachSd has pointed out to me, from Franz Kafka.  For the cerebral filmgoer, this is a work that provides plenty of food for thought.

I really do not want to give too much away here, so let me just say that when a film opens with a quote from Rashi, followed by a gripping prologue story set in a shtetl and filmed in Yiddish, at least a couple of things become apparent:

1) This is going to be a very different film (but then, aren’t all films by the Coen brothers?).

2) This is going to be a great film for discussion on Galus.

However, a discussion of a film without spoilers is a discussion with too many limitations – so given it’s only recently been released, here is a proposition

  • Go forth and see this film if you haven’t already.
  • Let’s meet back in a week (min) or two (max).
  • We’ll have someone write an article to start the discussion – feel free to contact us if you think you are up to this challenge – we’re looking for someone who can discuss the film in a biblical context, and possibly also a literary context.

Finally, please refrain from leaving spoilers in the comments section, but do let us know if you have seen the film, and whether you liked it.

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