Category Archives: Israel

“UNCHAINED” (“METIR AGUNOT”)— A Look at Jewish Orthodox Marriage

“UNCHAINED” (“METIR AGUNOT”)

A Look at Jewish Orthodox Marriage

Amos Lassen

Agunah is the Hebrew word for “chained” or for an “anchored” woman. This refers to the Jewish law principle  in which a woman is bound in marriage by a husband who refuses to grant a divorce or who is missing and not proven dead.

This is the story of Yossef Mourad and his wife Hannah. It takes viewers into the closed-off ultra-orthodox Haredi world, and touches on the most painful place where Jewish-law clashes with modern life- the status of women in society. 

 A devout Rabbi-detective, whose job is to free the women whose husbands deny them a divorce and a new life, finds that in his own home lurks a secret that threatens his world and marriage. “Unchained” has received 12 nominations for the prestigious Ophir Award including:

Best Drama Series Award

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Best Director in a Drama Series Award

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Best Actor in a Drama Series Award

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Best Actress in a Drama Series Award

“The Book of Israela” by Rabbi Rena Blumenthal— Now and Then

Blumenthal, Rena. “The Book of Israela”,  Resource Publications, 2018.

Then and Now

Amos Lassen

In Rabbi Rena Blumenthal’s, “The Book of Israela”, we meet Kobi Benami in Jerusalem of 2002 at the height of the second intifada. He is a middle-aged psychologist whose life is falling apart. He has been thrown out of his house by his wife who is tired of his philandering and his daughter has refused to speak to him. The new clinic director has put him on probation for his indifferent work habits. Life, for Kobi, is not particularly good right now. Just at this time, he gets a new patient named Israela, a woman with quite a story that is filled with strange  biblical references. Her husband, Y, is questionable—  he may or may not exist. She hasn’t seen him in months and she is being stalked by “his prophet-like emissaries who span a wide spectrum of Israeli society–Orthodox to secular, right-wing settlers to left-wing urban elites”. They are held together by their condemnation of her, her devotion to Y and her ties to  The Outstretched Arm, a sinister organization that Y supposedly runs.

Kobi soon finds himself as part of a surreal encounter with the anthropomorphized story of ancient Israel. He becomes preoccupied with questions about the nature and existence of Y and because of this, is forced to confront his own dysfunctional life patterns, his family’s past, and the war that rages around him.

Kobi becomes our narrator and he gives us a strange and honest portrait of contemporary Israel that is dealing with Abrahamic monotheism. The ancient prophets (or possibly just several crazy people) follow and haunt Kobi because of  Israela.

Kobi has no faith and his story is told as a biblical metaphor about God’s relationship with Israel. We read of Jewish historical and mythical experiences and these bring us close the hapless psychologist whose life becomes one of turmoil. We meet two men who are totally different— Kobi and an American Orthodox rabbi but both of whose lives force them to look at and analyze their pasts so that they can find new ways to face their futures.

Kobi’s problems are caused by his own doings. The story is set at a time when because of intifada, many look to the clinic for help and the number of suicide bombers is increasing. Kobi has little or no interest in his patients until Israela, whose story he finds fascinating, even though he is sure that she is delusional. Her claim to be married to an older man, Y, who controls a powerful, but little known, organization seems suspect. She says Y loves her, but Kobi suspects that she is an abused wife.

When emissaries from Y find Kobi and explain their understanding of Y and Israela’s relationship, things change. These emissaries  include an extreme right-wing settler and a leftist who believes Israel has mistreated the Palestinians, believe that Y has Israela’s best interests at heart, even though she has betrayed him.

I immediately realized that what I was reading were biblical stories retold and I find these to be very clever. In recognizing the original stories, we see an extra level to what is being told here. (However, it is indeed possible to read this with no knowledge of the Bible).

I find it fascinating in that I was totally ready to dislike Kobi, I changed my mind as I read even though his behavior left a great deal to be desired. When I read that he was the son of Holocaust survivors, his actions are put into perspective yet this does not excuse him. I must admit that there were several times during which I debated whether or not to continue reading— there were simply too many open situations for which I could see no forthcoming solutions but I decided to continue hoping that all would come together. As it is, I found this to be a satisfying read but one I had to work at. In fact, I am sure that there are aspects of the book that I missed and when time permits, I will read it again (something I rarely do).

Reading  a variety of perspectives on life in Israel today combined with social commentary through and biblical illusions can be great fun. It is Israela who makes this all possible by opening the story that drives Kobi and the rest of the plot. It took a while but I realized the genius that is between the lines of the text.

“FIG TREE”— Taking Care

“FIG TREE”

Taking Care

Amos Lassen

Set during the Ethiopian civil war, “Fig Tree” is the story  of the coming-of-age story of a Jewish teenager looking to save her non-Jewish boyfriend.

Writer-director Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian takes viewers back to 1989 to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We meet Mina, a Jewish teenager who learns of her family’s plan to make aliyah in Israel.  She fears for her boyfriend, Eli who is likely to be forced into joining Mengistu Haile Mariam’s army.  While moving to Israel will solve her family’s problem of dealing with the Ethiopian civil war, it doesn’t solve Eli’s problems.

Religion plays a large role in the film because of the strict rules that Israel has when it comes to making aliyah.  While Mina and her family are fine, Eli isn’t.  We see the role immigration plays in the film. While  it means that one looks to live a better life in another country it’s also tragic that oe’s own country has failed the citizen.  Unfortunately, this is where the film ends.

“Fig Tree” is the brilliant  directorial debut for the Ethiopian-Israeli filmmaker.  Not only did the film win the TIFF Eurimages’ Audentia Award for Best Female director it also had four nominations for the Israeli Ophir Awards–the Oscars equivalent. It lost to –“The Cakemaker” also reviewed here at reviewsbyamoslassen.com.

Betalehem Asmamawe  play 16-year-old Mina, a young Jewish, impoverished Ethiopian girl stuck in the war-torn Ethiopia of 1989 and she gives a startling, vulnerable performance. She is a Juliet who must guard her Romeo, Eli (Yohanes Muse), from being torn away from her.

The film opens with the explanation that “In the midst of the civil war, young men are hunted down and forced to join the army of tyrant Mengistu Haile Mariam.” Mina sees her male peers yanked out of classrooms and kidnapped off the streets of Addis Ababa. Her own brother has already lost his arm in this conflict.

To survive, Eli hides in a fig tree where Mina visits him daily, supplying food and company, and although they have not yet made love, the couple finds ways to express their love for each other.

Mina’s grandmother goes to the black market to get the proper papers for the family to emigrate to Israel. What will happen to Eli if the family moves?

The cinematography by Daniel Miller is stunning and the entire cast  beautifully recreates Davidian’s childhood memories. (She emigrated to Israel at age eleven near the end of the war herself). The ending of the film is unforgettable  as is all that we see here.

“M”— Overcoming Abuse in Israel

“M”

Overcoming Abuse in Israel

Amos Lassen

In Yolande Zauberman’s “M”, egregious abuse is exposed and explored. The film tells the harrowing story of Menahem Lang, a gregarious thirtysomething Israeli singer and actor who grew up in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Bnei Brak, just east of Tel Aviv, where he was raped systematically as a child by multiple religious elders. In his 20s, Lang confronted one of his abusers, and managed to secure an on-camera confession which was subsequently broadcast on national television. But he remained haunted by his past experiences, and convinced that sexual abuse in the community was still widespread. In the film he returns to Bnei Brak in search of further closure.

Shot almost entirely at night, a striking number of scenes take place inside cars, and it’s all set to a heavy, jazz-inflected score. As damaged as Lang clearly is, he’s motivated by a desire to heal his blighted, pathologically secretive community.

Many of the city’s older and more devout inhabitants would clearly like Lang to keep quiet or go away. Lang’s own parents prove completely inept at offering their son the support he so clearly needs. But other encounters take less predictable turns. During his time back home, Lang strikes up a friendship with a 19-year-old who was abused by his older brothers. After sharing their darkest secrets, the younger man feels he can open up about the fact that he believes he may be gay but is also completely clueless about sex. The subsequent exchange, in which Lang attempts to bring him up to speed, is both heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny. Director Zauberman strikes a clever balance here, giving us a formally inventive film which is angry but also empathetic, and which leaves the viewer with a sense that recovery from even the most appalling trauma is possible.

Zauberman sets out on a particularly dark journey to uncover a widespread, albeit absolutely unreported in the public, issue in the reticent community of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The documentary opens at night in Tel Aviv where Lang demonstrates why he has become a renowned performer of liturgical chants in a religious community. In the next scene we see Menahem discussing his preference for transsexuals with Miss Trans Israel, despite claiming to be of heterosexual orientation.

Lang left the Jewish religion, used his beautiful voice as an actor, and gained notoriety, as well as infamy in certain religious circles, for exposing his childhood abuser and getting his confession on camera. He was not the only rapist; Lang was not even eight years old at that time. And he was not the only victim.

In a rare glance behind the curtain of an enclosed religious community that shuns media attention, “M” uncovers shocking behavioral patterns that became normalized over the course of years. Several generations testify to the deeply-rooted sexual abuse in numerous distressing personal accounts and point towards intrinsic pathology.

Zauberman combines journalistic investigation and intriguing storytelling to give us a gripping exposé on rampant sexual abuse,  and the touching personal story of Menahem Lang and how childhood abuse changed his life and his stance toward religion and how he finds more uncomfortable answers.

This is disturbing to see but Lang’s candidness and bravery to speak out and lay bare his experiences, his struggles with his own demons and a lack of understanding among family members are amazing. His charisma and credibility draws other victims with similar stories into his orbit, uncovering identical patterns.

The power of the film is  in its accessibility. The perfectly-chosen protagonist’s willingness to be painfully frank about what happened to him and how it turned around his private life and his initial expression of attraction to transsexuals has a heartbreaking explanation.

Lang is completely charming. He is open and willing to probe the darker recesses of his soul by recalling the traumatizing experiences. He does not avoid less favorable and least expected circumstances as why he did not defend himself more furiously against the unwanted physical advances. His testimony and the circumstances he describes have great social relevance, although not exclusive to the community of Orthodox Jews. The catalysts have nothing to do with religion and Zauberman´s film brings forth eye-opening discoveries.

The director delivers wonderful storytelling. She manages to incorporate entertaining moments courtesy of Lang in carefully-timed, light flourishes of humor.

 

Lang becomes the confessor, the teacher and eventually the bearer of the light, even though he himself acknowledges the damage that cannot be undone. He remains dedicated to preventing the abuse and calling other victims out to not suffer in silence.

“UNSETTLING”—The People and the Land

“UNSETTLING”

The People and the Land

Amos Lassen

Iris Zaki’s “Unsettling” looks  deeply into the people at the heart of the lands most affected by the Israeli-Palestine debate. A self-confessed “leftie”, the filmmaker uses her first feature-length documentary as a social experiment, highlighting the tensions and experiences of citizens from the Israeli West Bank settlement of Tekoa through the more personal approach of one-to-one interviews.

The film begins with the director laying down her purpose and challenges for the project and even admitting her fears of not even getting enough content to fill the feature. However, once sat down with willing volunteers, Zaki is not afraid to challenge the views of those villagers comfortable enough (or not so comfortable enough) to join her. She slowly looks at the layers and barriers of each interviewee to uncover their true emotions and political opinions.

We get perspectives and become engaged in intelligent political discussions.  “Unsettling” is a documentary about the people rather than the unrest and it is unique through its presentation of an educated auteur assured in her political views. Each conversation brings about different questions that question us especially “Where is Israeli diversity?” If other countries can manage a multicultural society, why can’t Israel? This is a pertinent question, the answer to which still eluding us.

There is methodical pacing that comes with a series of in-depth discussions about such political content. The feature moves from interview to interview, interjecting each dialogue with prolonged scenic shots displaying life in the West Bank and gorgeous vast landscapes. It is this fluidity that makes watching this a tiring job when we consider the limited number of interviewees and the fact that each conversation is conducted in exactly the same location. One subject breaks this mold by giving a powerful and emotional account of the moment she was assaulted and stabbed by a young Palestinian boy and she gives an astonishing explanation of how she grew to forgive her attacker. But moments like this are rare. The film’s content is vitally important but a wider variety in the portrayal of this investigation would certainly have helped put across the film’s message more critically.

There is a lot of  tension when  filmmaker  Zaki arrives in the Jewish settlement of Tekoa to make the film. We can expect even more tension when the pro-Israel audiences see that she begins her film with a text indicating that “approximately 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank live under Israeli occupation.” It’s a choice of words that’s been contested by Israeli government who declare the West Bank as “disputed territory”.

A few very composed shots open the documentary to show the small place of life in a bubble, both geographically and socially. It is a peaceful space for the population of four thousand. What we hear, though, is a man off-screen complaining about on-screen representation of Israel; he hates the potential of a left wing filmmaker making a film there because “leftists are typically anti-Israel and anti-settler.” The set-up outside a coffee shop is simple: chairs, a table, cameras for shot-reverse-shot, and cameras observing from afar. The director uses thirty days to capture the experience of a lefty moving to a settlement and her interactions with its inhabitants.

The film is pretty emotionally exhausting for the filmmaker. A couple of weeks in, she realizes that she doesn’t fit in here, it’s a challenge, but she’ll have a film by the end of it all. And so she does, and it’s a fascinating film. Not many people were willing to talk to her but those who do bring unique perspectives to the table. Everybody has been affected by the situation between the two nations in some sort of way so every conversation is insightful in providing the various perspectives of a settler.

Zaki’s presence was polarizing from the outset, and she refuses to mince her words . The film’s tensest exchange, between Zaki and one of the community’s most openly rightwing residents, proves depressingly futile, with the latter using the historic mistreatment of Jews to justify her complete nationalism.

Zaki does better at finding common ground with two former members of the Hilltop Youth – a religious-nationalist movement known for violent pro-Israel activism – who both recognize that they were essentially brainwashed as children. A real sense of hope is seen in Michal, who saw her stabbing as a message from God that Israelis must “respect the foreigners living among us… and renounce this sense of entitlement”. She talks movingly about members of her assailant’s community visiting her to express their shame and sorrow, and explains how, by making alliances with their Palestinian neighbors, settlers the way towards peaceful co-existence might come about.

“Hanoch Levin: Selected Plays: Three Volumes” by Hanoch Levin— Remembering a Master

Levin, Hanoch. “Hanoch Levin: Selected Plays: Three Volumes”, Oberon Books, 2020.

Remembering a Master

Amos Lassen

Hanoch Levin was born in Tel Aviv on December 18, 1943 and died of cancer on August 18, 1999. He wrote plays, sketches, songs, stories and poetry, and also directed most of his own plays. As a playwright and stage director, he had his own unique dramatic and theatrical language which he created by combining poetic written text and images designed with the actors and set designers, costume and lighting, composer and choreographer. His dramas are characterized by his ability to combine the work of different artists and “have always been a celebration of words and visual images, based on a great love for the theater and all who take part in the performance.”

When I lived in Israel, I never missed a Levin production. I knew Hanoch as both an artist and a man and he mystified me and I loved him. His legacy is both artistic and spiritual. It consists of 63 plays (except for his political satires, only 33 of his plays were performed in his lifetime and 22 were directed by him, two books of prose, two collections of sketches and songs, a book of poems and two books for children. In 1999, the last year of his life, he took care to publish all his works. We are so lucky to finally have them in English now.

Levin was modernity on stage. His world was both horrible and hilarious. It is a world that is filled with contradictions that cannot be avoided and it is both tragic and pleasurable. Levin’s world is the real world, the one we live in daily but do not want to acknowledge. For Israel, he displays her joys and pleasures and her agonies and does the same for Palestine with

the weakness of the oppressor and the strength of the oppressed. He wrote of the East and also the West both today, yesterday and antiquity. He is a personal quarrel and “the violent political thrashings about of a nation in turmoil.” He is both the citizen and the refugee, the lost and the found, the owner occupier and the homeless. His voice is tremendous as are his plays that provide a huge challenge to theatres, actors, directors, producers, and audiences. His courage had no bounds and we need to hear his messages.  

At first Levin wrote poetry, but later concentrated on the theatre. He became resident playwright of the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv and also worked with Habimah, Israel’s national theater. He received numerous theatre awards both in Israel and abroad―most notably at the Edinburgh Festival―and his plays have been staged around the world. Levin was awarded the Bialik Prize in 1994. Before he died of cancer on August 18, 1999, he continued to work even in the hospital, nearly to his last day, but didn’t have time to finish the staging of his play “The Crybabies.”

Plays One contains the plays Krum (1975), A Winter Funeral (1978), The Torments of Job (1981), Suitcase Packers (1983) and The Labour of Life (1989). Translated by Jessica Cohen, Evan Fallenberg and Naaman Tammuz.

Plays Two contains the plays Schitz (1989), The Lost Women of Troy (1989), The Child Dreams (1993), Walkers in the Dark (1998) and Requiem (1999). Translated by Jessica Cohen, Evan Fallenberg, Leland Frankel, Lee Nishri and Naaman Tammuz.

Plays Three contains the plays The Constant Mourner (1999), The Thin Soldier (1999), The Lamenters (2000) and Bachelors and Bachelorettes (2002). Translated by Jessica Cohen, Evan Fallenberg and Naaman Tammuz.

“Apeirogon: A Novel” by Colum McCann–Love, Loss, Conflict and Life and a Plea for Peace

McCann, Colum. , Random House, 2020.

Love, Loss, Conflict and Life and a Plea for Peace

Amos Lassen

An apeirogon is a shape with a countably infinite number of sides. It is also the name of Colum McCann’s new novel about  those living through the conflict between Palestine and Israel as told through two families whose outlooks and lives were changed when the lives of their two daughters were taken. It all began on a regular kind of day but ended with two families dealing with the grief of loss. Through sharing their stories of the loss of their daughters, they were more able to see the infinite sides to each other’s story and this led which led then to understanding and a friendship. 

The novel is based on the lives of real people, Rami Elhanan, an Israeli and his daughter, Smadar, and Bassam Aramin,  a Palestinian and his daughter, Abir. When Abir was ten years old, a rubber bullet ended her life. Smadar was thirteen. The focus here is on their fathers, how they met, and how they helped each other find some degree of peace.

Moving back and forth through time and memories, we get the story of the characters. These memories and stories differ in length and some of them come with photographs and some have few words; some are political while others offer varying perspectives. We get a view of the ways these lives were personally affected and that the journey here lead to a  beginning of a sense of personal peace. The reader gains a broader view of both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Rami Elhanan had served his obligatory military term as a youth. His service had been during wartime when he had to shoot to kill. Now he just wanted to live a regular life –working at his career in graphic design and enjoy his home with his wife and four children. But that was not to be.  In 1997, Rami’s 13-year-old daughter Smadar was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber as she was walking in Jerusalem with a friend. Rami’s initially felt hatred and wanted revenge. He remained like this for a year until a rabbi invited Rami to the Parent’s Circle (a support group for both Israeli and Palestinian parents who had lost children). Rami went reluctantly and there he first saw a Palestinian woman holding a photograph of her dead daughter. He realized that his was the first time in his life he had thought of an individual Palestinian person as a fellow human being. As he dealt with his hatred and vengeance, it disappeared and he eventually sought out the organization, Combatants for Peace, where he would meet Bassam Aramin; a Palestinian man who would teach Rami what life is like in Occupied Palestine.

Bassam grew up on the West Bank  that was controlled by Israeli security forces. The area was subject to house raids, humiliating checkpoints, and armed soldiers on patrol. Bassam and his friends liked to raise the Palestinian flag at their school even though it was outlawed and when soldiers would come to take it down, they would throw rocks and run away. As a teen, Bassam and his friends found some grenades, and threw them at a convoy causing him to be labelled as a  terrorist and sentenced to prison for seven years when he was just seventeen. In prison, Bassam became quite radical, but while watching a documentary on the Holocaust, he found himself thinking of the Jewish people as fellow human beings for the first time in his life. When released from prison, he  cofounded Combatants for Peace, and two years after meeting Rami for the first time, Bassam also became a member of an organization that no one wants to join, the Parents Circle,  when his own ten-year-old daughter, Abir, was shot in the back of the skull with a rubber bullet that was fired by an eighteen-year-old Israeli soldier from the back of an armored jeep while Abir was buying candy for herself and her sister. The two fathers, Rami and Bassam, suddenly became Joined forever in grief. Now they meet meet times a week and are as close as brothers.

Writer McCann goes into the struggles of two fathers left mourning their young daughters who are determined to prevent these tragedies from happening again and again and again… The depiction of violence here is explicit and without compassion. The stories are complex but the reward for reading this is great— a better understanding of what is going on in the Middle East.

Even though Rami and Bassam had been raised to hate one another,  when they learn of each other’s stories, they recognize the loss it connects them. Together they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace start to permeate what has for generations seemed an impermeable conflict. McCann met the real Bassam and Rami on a trip with the non-profit organization Narrative 4 and he was moved by their willingness to share their stories with the world. They felt that if through their hope they could see themselves in one another, perhaps others could the same.
 
With their blessing, McCann began to write and uses real-life stories to begin another story— one that “crosses centuries and continents, stitching together time, art, history, nature, and politics in a tale both heartbreaking and hopeful. The result is an ambitious novel, crafted out of a universe of fictional and nonfictional material, with these fathers’ moving story at its heart.”

Over the course of the day, these two men’s lives intertwine as they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace. Through telling the men’s stories via short vignettes, McCann goes from the present to the past, sharing the lives of these men, the lives of their daughters, and their experiences.  McCann writes with emotional accuracy, sensitivity and beauty. I often laughed and wept on the same page.

“15 YEARS”— Headed for Heartbreak

“15 YEARS”

Headed for Heartbreak

Amos Lassen

Israeli director Yuval Hadadi’s feature film debut “15 Years” is the compelling story of an outwardly successful gay couple in Tel Aviv who seem to have all that makes for a good life but who are nevertheless destined for heartbreak 

Yoav  (Oded Leopold) and Dan (Udi Persi) are at home celebrating their 15th Anniversary with their closest friends.  Yoav seems disturbed when the conversation turns to swapping stories about their newly acquired babies.  He becomes even more upset when he hears that his best gal pal Alma (Ruti Asarsai)  is also pregnant and people assume that he is the donor.

Yoav does not like children probably because of his own unhappy childhood. He will not go to visit his elderly father who is dying in nursing home.  Nothing usually bothers Yoav who sees himself as an alpha male and is used to controlling simply everything. When one of his major architect  projects gets in trouble. He is pushed over the edge.

Yoav’s partner Dan is a community lawyer has become used to walking around his partner sees that Yoav is unravelling and wants no help. The film looks at the characters accepting their sexuality and is also about the difficulties of adjusting as a gay couple in contemporary life. 

Each of the three actors gives a fine performance and this is probably because the script develops the characters so well.

“MANON”— Manon in Israel

“MANON”

After the Great War

Amos Lassen

This cinematic adaptation of Abbe Prévost’s 1731 novel “Manon Lescaut” was directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, the French director lauded for his acclaimed thrillers “The Wages of Fear” and “Les Diaboliques.” It is a classical tragic romance moved to a World War II setting. It follows the travails of Manon (Cécile Aubry), a village girl accused of collaborating with the Nazis and is rescued from imminent execution by a former fighter for the French Resistance, Robert Desgrieux (Michel Auclair). The couple move to Paris, but their relationship becomes stormy as they struggle to survive. They turn to profiteering, prostitution and even murder. They eventually escape to Palestine where they face a treacherous desert crossing. They hope to find the happiness which seems to constantly elude them. Clouzot gives us an astute portrayal of doomed young lovers caught in post-war France and the film swept the jury of the 1949 Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion award. However, it has been unjustly overshadowed by the director’s suspense films. “Manon” now returns to screens in glorious High Definition and excellent extras.

Clouzot had worked in Nazi-occupied France as a screenwriter and director for the German-owned company Continental Films and, after the liberation of France, he was tried in court for collaborating with the Germans and sentenced to being banned from going on set of any film or from using a film camera for the rest of his life. However, his sentence was later shortened from life to two years, so he was only banned by the French Government from film making until 1947.

Clouzot re-tells the story of ambitious, gold-digging femme fatale Manon Lescaut whose insatiable lust for money destroys her relationship with lover Robert Desgrieux and finally her life. Robert is a French Resistance veteran who rescues Manon from villagers intent on lynching her for collaboration with the Nazis. They quickly relocate to Paris, where they become embroiled in crime.

Clouzot gets extraordinary performances from his cast and particularly from Aubry and Auclair, but also from Serge Regianni as Manon’s dirty brother Leon Lescaut, Gabrielle Dorziat as the bordello madam Mme. Agnès and Héléna Manson as a Normandy peasant, The Gossip. The screenplay by Clouzot and Jean Ferry is subtle and impeccable, and the depiction of the post-war Parisian underworld is vivid. The film was shot in black and white by Armand Thirard, produced by Paul-Edmond Decharme, scored by Paul Misraki, and designed by Max Douy.

Bonus Materials

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original 1.0 mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Bibliothèque de poche: H.G. Clouzot, an archival documentary from 1970 in which Clouzot talks of his love of literature and the relationship between the page and the screen
  • Woman in the Dunes, a newly filmed video appreciation by film critic Geoff Andrew
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring two artwork options

“UNCHAINED”— A New Israeli Series

“UNCHAINED”

A New Israeli Series

Amos Lassen

 A dramatic unveiling of the world of an ultra-orthodox Rabbi as he works to release women from the “anchors” of their marriage 

“Spectacular! An exhilarating and rewarding experience. Profoundly moving”  (Yedioth Aharonoth)

“Smart and wondrous direction of an intelligent script”  (Haaretz)

“Alive and kicking script; A smart, brash and thought-provoking series” (Maariv)

Agunah, a Hebrew word meaning “chained” or “anchored” woman, is a Jewish law principle in which a woman is bound in marriage by a husband who refuses to grant a divorce or who is missing and not proven dead.

A devout Rabbi-detective, whose job is to free the women whose husbands deny them a divorce and a new life, finds that in his own home lurks a secret  that threatens his world and marriage.

“Unchained” the story of Yossef Mourad and his wife Hannah, takes the viewer into the closed-off ultra-orthodox Haredi world, and touches on the most painful place where Jewish-law clashes with modern life – the status of women in society.

Created by:

Yossi Madmoni (“Restoration”, “Redemption”) 

Tamar Kay and David Ofek (“No.17”, “Ha’Mangalistim”)

Starring: 

Aviv Alush (“The Baker and the Beauty”, “The Women’s Balcony”)  Alma Dishi (“VIP”, “Your Honor”)