Movie Review: Yentl Essay

Movie Review: Yentl Essay

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Movie Review: Yentl


     Everyone at one time or another has felt out of place. Feeling unsure
of one's place in society is an experience that every young adult faces but
deals with differently. Some rebel while others comply with whatever has been
set out for them by society or their parents, or both. The role of the woman in
society is forever changing. Where women were once obligated to stay in the
home and dote on their husbands, they are now working in the same types of jobs
as their husbands. What was typically the male role has been blurred and
practically obliterated. Religious roles have followed society's lead in their
evolution. For example, since its creation over five thousand years ago, the
Jewish religion has evolved in some movements to involve women and men equally
in ceremonies. The orthodox movement has always remained traditional in its
belief that women have their place in the home, cooking and raising children,
and serving their husbands. Education remains the man's duty. The movie Yentl
starring Barbara Streisand, shows this traditional belief through its plot,
characterization, music, lights, camera angles, and symbolism.
     Set in Eastern Europe in 1904, Yentl captures the essence of the Jewish
woman's eternal struggle. It is the story of a young girl, in love with
learning but forbidden to do so by Jewish tradition. Upon her father's death,
Yentl disguises herself as a boy to attend a yeshiva (religious school) and
continue her studies. She befriends Avigdor, a male scholar at the yeshiva,
and falls in love with him. Driven by her love for him, Yentl will do all that
she can to ensure that he is near her and that her secret is not revealed.
Yentl struggles with her secret until the day she can no longer remain silent.
She tells Avigdor what she has done, and of her love for him, but he cannot
accept a woman who refuses to act as a traditional woman should. So Yentl
departs for America in hope of a different mentality, but never forgetting her
love for Avigdor and all that she has learned.
     Based on Isaac Bashevis Singer's acclaimed short story, "Yentl, the
Yeshiva Boy," the story is somewhat unrealistic but serves its purpose in
proving a point; the point being that women have always been just as capable as
men in studying and education, an...


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...e
bird, is able to soar - through the prejudices of her traditions and through the
world of knowledge for which she so longs. She displays this thought in the
last line of the movie when she sings "Papa watch me fly." As well, when Yentl
transforms herself into Anshel, the boy, she looks at herself in a cracked
mirror and cuts her hair. This displays her uncertainty of herself and her
place in Jewish society, and the cutting of her hair symbolizes her
transformation and the beginning of a new life for her. Symbolism throughout
the film, contributes to the film's theme of self-discovery and role reversal.
     The plot, characterization, lighting, camera angles, and symbolism
reveal thoroughly the plot of this highly thought-evoking film. The plot mainly
contributes to proving that a woman's place is not solely in the home. That
"story books for women, sacred books for men", as the bookseller says at the
beginning of the story, is not an accurate assessment of a woman's intellectual
capabilities. Because of Barbara Streisand's fabulous and complete
characterization of Yentl, this movie comes to life and touches the hearts of
its viewers.

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