Two friends who are expecting the birth of their first children make a pact: if the babies are of different sexes, they will marry each other when they grow up. The pact comes at an unfortunate time as one of the friends is soon killed and the other’s wife dies in labour. Many years pass, and the grown-up children fall in love with each other, but the girl’s father forgets about the pact and promises her hand to another, wealthier man. Consumed by despair, the youth turns to black magic and sets in train a chain of tragic events.
The film is a tour de force of so-called Jewish cinema (Yiddish-language films directed by Jews and starring Jewish actors) and perhaps the best picture produced in Poland before Word War II. An adaptation of a well-known play by Szymon An-ski (aka Szlojme Zajnwel Rapaport), The Dybbuk was helmed by the legendary Michał Waszyński (real name Mosze Waksberg). It features the singing of the Warsaw synagogue’s first cantor Gerszon Sirota and choreography by Judith Berg. The film preserves the characteristic image of the Jewish shtetl (outdoor scenes were shot in Kazimierz Dolny). With its message of cultivating the memory of giving justice to the dead, The Dybbuk is now seen as prophetic of the Shoah.
This screening will be presented together with Birthplace by Paweł Łoziński.
- Original title — Der Dibuk
- Director — Michał Waszyński (real name Mosze Waksberg)
- Writer — Andrzej Marek, based on the play Dybbuk by Szymon An-ski; consultant Anatol Stern
- Genre — drama
- Production — Poland
- Year of production — 1937