$6 | 1923 | Drama/ Silent |With live keyboard accompaniment by Marta Waterman | 2 Hours 15 Minutes
“An outstanding example of the creativity of Jewish filmmakers in 1920s Germany. ” Flicker Alley
Baruch Mayr, son of an orthodox rabbi from a poor shtetl in Galizia (shown refreshingly as a traditional rural village,full of warmth and love, not an impoverished and foul-looking place of misery), decides to break with the family tradition and leave the shtetl to become an actor. As a result, his father bans him from his family and Baruch leaves to join a small burlesque troupe. The troupe is awful and Baruch is head and shoulders the best actor; but it gives him the opportunity to be discovered.
An Austrian Archduchess introduces him to the director of the most important theater in Vienna, the Burgtheater. Baruch receives a contract there and becomes more and more an assimilated jew. He quickly climbs the ladder of stardom, cutting off his peyes and exchanging his shtetl clothes for the sophisticated fashions of a man-about-town. However, he finds that, there are still doors that will always be closed to him. Homesick,he returns to his faithful sweetheart and father, hoping for a reconciliation.
The Ancient Law is an important piece of German-Jewish cinematic history, contrasting the closed world of an Eastern European shtetl with the liberal mores of 1860s Vienna. With its historically authentic set design and ensemble of prominent actors – all captured magnificently by cinematographer Theodor Sparkuhl – The Ancient Law is an outstanding example of the creativity of Jewish filmmakers in 1920s Germany.
Sunday Silents is made possible by the generous support of Jim Demaio, State Farm Insurance Agent, New Paltz. And a special Grant from the Jewish Federation of Ulster County.