Golem: The Spirit of Exile | Chicago Reader

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Based on the Book of Ruth, this elegant 1991 Israeli film by Amos Gitai reimagines the biblical tale of famine and exile as a story of immigrants in contemporary Paris. Characters declaim texts, many from the Bible or works of religious mysticism, in a variety of Paris locations; their direct address to the camera heightens our sense of their displacement, relating the characters to history more than to each other. Those unfamiliar with the source materials may miss out on some of the film's meaning, and on a single viewing I found the narrative a bit hard to follow. But visually the film is stunning: Gitai says he wanted the look of Vermeer and Rubens, and veteran cinematographer Henri Alekan is exceptionally subtle in his sculpting of light. 105 min.

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