Romeo and Juliet is William Shakespeare’s story about two youngsters from feuding families who fell in an impossible love. Now Director Eve Annenberg has set the Bard’s story in contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn, one of the two largest Satmar (Hasidic Jewish) communities in the east coast of the United States. As the first film with so much Yiddish spoken in decades, Annenberg parallels the feud of the Capulets and the Montagues with the relationship between two streams of Orthodox Judaism. She turns the Montagues into Satmar Jews and the Capulets into Chabad-Lubavitch Jews.
In “Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish” an E.R. nurse (played by Annenberg herself) undertakes a translation of Romeo and Juliet into new Yiddish in her pursuit of a Masters degree. When she realizes she is over her head, she accepts the help of some young Orthodox dropouts (played by newcomer actors who actually left the Satmar community in real life).
With a little bit of “magic,” the film switches between scenes of the translating efforts of the group in contemporary time to a view of how Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet would have turned out had it occurred within the Orthodox Jewish society.
The result is an original film that provides a glance into the Jewish community – with its religious and secular members and its young and old generations. By the time you are done watching the film you will know what the peyos are and what they represent, have learned a couple of Yiddish words, and perhaps have even found parallels between the Jewish community represented and your own.
“Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish” is 92 minutes long in English and Yiddish with English subtitles. It will showcase at the Laemmle’s Music Hall 3 starting tomorrow, May 11th, and through the 17th, with panel discussions with the director and cast members every evening after the 7:40 p.m. show.
Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish
Laemmle’s Music Hall 3
9036 Wilshire Blvd,
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
May 11 – 17, 2012
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