Proposed Submission Title

The Identity Crisis in Jewish Cinema

Presenter Information

Ian SmithFollow

Keywords

Film, Jewish Studies, Film History

Select the category the research project fits.

Social Sciences/Humanities

Is this submission part of ICaP/PW (Introductory Composition at Purdue/Professional Writing)?

No

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to problematize the idea of a cohesive Jewish cinema. Then it seeks to critically analyze the thematic progression of Jewish films in an attempt to find common themes among them in an effort to answer the question: what is a Jewish film? It also seeks to make predictions as to what the future of Jewish films could look like. This study was done by watching, analyzing, and dissecting films that are typically deemed as Jewish while taking into account the historical conditions of the Jewish people during the films’ respective eras. Films of different eras, countries of origin, and genres were surveyed for the study. Then, the films were critically compared to find commonalities between them. The research concluded that Jewish films fall very well into certain pre-existing categorical eras coinciding with the historical condition that the Jewish people were in at the time of the film. Also, the theme of identity struggle was present and foregrounded in every film surveyed. However, this theme manifested itself in different ways depending on the film; some dealt with national identity, some with religious identity, etc. Thus, it seems that the theme of identity struggle persists in Jewish films over the boundaries of language, time, and country of origin. Given that identity is such a pertinent theme throughout all of Jewish cinema, it is safe to predict that this theme will carry over into the future; albeit manifesting itself in whatever way the future historical condition of the Jewish people dictates.

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The Identity Crisis in Jewish Cinema

The purpose of this study is to problematize the idea of a cohesive Jewish cinema. Then it seeks to critically analyze the thematic progression of Jewish films in an attempt to find common themes among them in an effort to answer the question: what is a Jewish film? It also seeks to make predictions as to what the future of Jewish films could look like. This study was done by watching, analyzing, and dissecting films that are typically deemed as Jewish while taking into account the historical conditions of the Jewish people during the films’ respective eras. Films of different eras, countries of origin, and genres were surveyed for the study. Then, the films were critically compared to find commonalities between them. The research concluded that Jewish films fall very well into certain pre-existing categorical eras coinciding with the historical condition that the Jewish people were in at the time of the film. Also, the theme of identity struggle was present and foregrounded in every film surveyed. However, this theme manifested itself in different ways depending on the film; some dealt with national identity, some with religious identity, etc. Thus, it seems that the theme of identity struggle persists in Jewish films over the boundaries of language, time, and country of origin. Given that identity is such a pertinent theme throughout all of Jewish cinema, it is safe to predict that this theme will carry over into the future; albeit manifesting itself in whatever way the future historical condition of the Jewish people dictates.