Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Filmed in the Yiddish language, The Wandering Jew features Jacob Ben-Ami as a young Jewish artist living in Germany in the early 1930s. As the Nazis gain in influence, the artist's life and livelihood are slowly eroded: his non-Jewish fiancee leaves him and his paintings are rejected by the Academy of Art. Growing to despise his heritage, the artist prepares to destroy his latest painting, a portrait of his father titled The Eternal Jew. Suddenly the figure in the portrait comes to life, and as the astonished artist listens in rapt attention, the figure relates the history of Jewish perseverance in the face of such horrors as the Spanish Inquisition and the Russian pogroms. Inspired, the artist vows to devote his life to the anti-Nazi cause. The Wandering Jew is a remarkable film for its era, so far and yet so near to the "Final Solution." In retrospect, the film's most poignant moments occur when the hero's father describes the comparatively benign treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union. The filmmakers weren't in possession of all the facts in 1933--nor was the rest of the world, for that matter.
artist, Jewish, anti-Semitism, father, painting, portrait, adversity, heritage