Fellow Movie Lovers
A SERIOUS MAN
Growing up in an upper middle class Christian community, studying comparative religions in college, I developed a fascination for Judaism and its amazing story of survival. From the Babylonian captivity (506 BC), Diaspora from Rome (70AD), Spanish Inquisition, expulsion from every European country and the ultimate degradation, the Holocaust, Judaism did not die, nor did its people. Why? It remains a mystery.
After embracing this religion as my own I have thrived in its glorious history, culture, philosophy and religious traditions; it is the core of my existence and I love it!
So when viewing Ethan and Joel Coen’s The Serious Man I was sickened and stunned by their portrayal of a late 1960s Jewish family and their Jewish community. Every individual is devoid of compassion, depth, sympathy and most importantly love.
They depict the rabbis as ignorant, self centered and cruel. The Coens render the familial relationships as petty, mean spirited and totally superficial. Even the Bar Mitzvah boy is stoned at his pivotal ceremony, denigrating its beautiful meaning in a young boys (and girls) religious life.
The major protagonist Larry Gopnik (exceptionally played by Michael Stuhlbarg) is the Job in this scenario; unlike Job he loses any shred of dignity by ultimately changing the failing grade of one of his students. There is not one redeeming scene in this entire film: it is pejorative, destructive and anti-semitic!
While viewing this movie with a friend we questioned the motives behind its creation? Why make your ancestors evil? Where was the respect for their family and deep rooted traditions? What kind of message does this send to the non Jewish world? After 9/11 there was another flare up of anti-Semitism; plus the financial misdeeds of Bernie Madoff; do we need another log on the proverbial pyre of Jewish hatred?
I thought of the historical wrongs perpetrated on this incredible religion and its people: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the teachings of Martin Luther; the madness of Hitler.
Was The Serious Man necessary?
On the positive side, long after the Coens have been forgotten, Judaism will still be alive!