Hester Street (1975)

PG   |    |  Drama, Romance


Hester Street (1975) Poster

It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have, namely on Hester Street on the Lower East ... See full summary »


6.9/10
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24 June 2007 | tedg
Two Goals
Its not true that there as many ways of seeing a movie as there are people. The art depends on there being only a few ways.

But still, you have choices. If what you want is a dramatic exercise you may like this, because that's its intent.

But it relies on storytelling gimmicks that you have to decide how to take.

The story is about Jewish Immigrants in New York in the 1890s, and one husband and wife. I chose to see it as an adventure into a world I do not know. It rewarded somewhat, perhaps less so than "The Jazz Singer" which was made near that era by people who lived in it. Here, all the clothes, faces, teeth are clean. There's no defecation and disease, no Jewish mafia and petty crime Jew-on-Jew. No bad people of any kind in fact. Somehow, squalor, crime and deprivation have been erased from history. Everyone on the street is happy.

Still, it was a voyage for me. But the film announces otherwise. It depends on memory of that very same stuff that I valued because I don't have them. In fact, this film seems to have been made by Jews for Jews, and mostly shown in Jewish venues rather than general release. Its a celebration of strength and adaptation, of the new layered on a preserved old, of the supposed special nature of these self-proclaimed special people.

So its a bit schitzo: part theme park and part nostalgic history lesson for those in the history. Too bad, because Carl Kane was engaging.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.

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