Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

“The Believer”- movie review

Posted by kneidalach on October 12, 2007


The Believer is a daring and gripping portrayal of a young Jewish man living an impossible contadiction as a neo-Nazi. Inspired by real events, the film tells the story of Danny Balint (Ryan Gosling) and his struggle between destroying his own people and being drawn back to Judaism.
(From the back of the DVD)

 *Winner of the Grand Jury Prize of Sundance Film Festival.*

 A very strong film, amazing acting, and powerful ideas and themes.
Danny is a self hating Jew- he puts a bomb in a synagoge, but tries to save a scroll of Torah. The film explores the deep connection people may have with their past and their roots, no matter how they’re trying to run away from them. 

One of the details that really bothered me, however, is the set up of Jewish practices.
One of the shuls he attends clearly looks like a coverted theater, or church-like looking room, rather then a synagoge, and another one he attends, seems very reform.
As you might know I’m not a complete supporter of the reform movement, so it seems that if this movie was to educate people about Jewish practices, it could be misleading.

Other than that, it’s a very recommended movie, I got it from the Sunnyvale public library, but you can probably find it in netflix.


2 Responses to ““The Believer”- movie review”

  1. Steve said

    This is one of my favorite movies. Ryan Gosling did a great job as Danny. It’s based on a true story, though it was moved into the present day. The story is based on Daniel Burros, a Jew, who was in the Ku Klux Klan and exposed in the New York Times.

    It was wierd seeing him try to reconcile his being a Jew and hating Jews. He put the talit on under his clothes and repaired the Torah scroll. In the end he could be neither Jew nor antisemite, so he destroyed himself.

    Did you watch any of the special features? They talk about the making of the movie. There’s one scene where they were vandalizing the synagogue, and one of the guys rips the Torah scroll and spits on it. I’m no expert on the scrolls, but they said that there are two panels that don’t have the name of God on them. They used a bunch of them over and over again for that scroll. They also weren’t official panels, or authorized for use. They also mentioned that they kept the doors to the ark closed unless they were filming in its direction. Basically they were trying to be respectful, but wanted to be as real as possible.

    American History X is another good movie.

  2. Mike said

    I’ve seen this movie and it is fascinating. It’s amazing how the drive to improve oneself became so twisted and perverted in his case.

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