Special Excerpt: Great Jewish Movies for the 'High Holidays'

The High Holiday season can arouse strange feelings in an 'ever-wondering' and often soul-searching soul.

No matter the Age, Sex or Creed; No matter the orientation or Origin: Jew, Gentile, Hindu or Muslim may find themselves all of the sudden, and with no prior warning, emitting a silent 'oy' to themselves during these troubled days!

It could happen to you anywhere: on the train or on the bus on your way to work; Between the supermarket isles, whilst wondering which detergent you should buy; Or when you're all alone in the comfort of your well made bed, warmly tucked between the clean crispy sheets and your favorite down-comforter..

The Excerpt Reader, being the Schmuck, Klutz & Putz that it is, has rounded up a selection of movie excerpts, celebrating - well, perhaps 'celebrating' is too strong a word.. -ceremonializing, or better yet sermonizing Judaism in the modern era.

Why movie excerpts? Why not book excerpts? Blame it on all the rich food and cheap wine one obliged to consume during these holiest of days (or blame God.. whatever works better for you).

These are the Excerpt's favorite Jewish directors, performing their greatest tributes to Judaism in film:

First runner-up, Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940). This movie is without a doubt a crucial specimen within the 20th century Culture heritage (if anyone were to make such a 'list' , as testimony for later generations.)

The selected scene is, naturally, Hinkel's speech:

Second runner-up, Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be, a 1942 comedy about a troupe of actors in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who use their abilities at disguise and acting to fool the occupying troops. (This genius film was later on re-directed by the no-less-talented Mel Brooks).

Here's a hilarious little scene which proves that even at the height of the 'days of atrocity' Jews knew how to laugh at their tormentors and, most importantly, at themselves:

A little excursion down memory lane might also bump you right-smack with Monty Python's 'Hitler in Somerset, Minehead' (well, England) Sketch (shot sometime in the 1970's, couldn't find the exact date..).

I think the quote "Oooh! I don't like the sound of these Boncerntration Bamps!" summarizes the sketch quite fairly..

A 'little' later on, and we're in 1987, in Woody Allen's Radio Days, another great cinematic achievement which retrospects back to the 1940's and celebrates the American (well, Jewish) family life during the Golden Age of Radio.

This scene gives you the typical 1940's (well, any time perhaps) Jewish family life portrayal:

But let's get serious! It's not all Hitler & Comedy for the Jews! 

Well, perhaps there's little else for the Jews for, even when they're dead serious, Jews tend to think (again) of Hitler and the dreadful holocaust.. 

Directed in the same year as Radio Days, Louis Malle's Au Revoir, Les Enfants, is a touchingly humane movie, recounting events in the childhood of the French new-wave director when he attended, at the age of 11, a Roman Catholic boarding school near Nazi-occupied 1943 Fontainebleau. 

Here's the movie's trailer, harboring the 'little' secret Malle the boy had to keep in order to survive: 

But as serious as it gets (and it gets serious..), it doesn't get as serious as Roman Polanski's The Pianist (2002), an adaptation of Jewish-Polish musician Władysław Szpilman's autobiography.

This overwhelming-at-times but nevertheless highly-important testimony for Humanity in its entirety, if not for Jews everywhere, performed by a great director at the height of his genius, should be a must-see on everyone's list, no matter the Age, Origin or Religion:

Here's a somewhat tacky but quite 'resuming' selection of scenes from the movie, accompanied by a recording of Władysław Szpilman's piano:

I'm sorry, but there's absolutely NO Schindler's List for you! Strict doctor's orders! Nor should thou have any Ben-Hur's Ten Commandments or Chariots of Fire! This Hollywood'ization of Jewish life has gone too far! Someone should put a stop too it.. 

I think you understand by now that a little Cabaret's out of the question as well, thank you very much..

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