Untangling the Mystery/Myth of Kabalistic Influences in Art
Erika Borsos | Gulf Coast of FL, USA | 06/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Filmed on location in Jerusalem, Paris, Moscow and St. Petersburg, this is an exciting and mysterious film. The cinematography within Russia is outstanding. The filming technique uses reality shots of unknown, unsuspecting Russian people to create scenes which enhance the story line. There are scenes of Russians going about their daily lives, street scenes, people on buses, riding taxis, and taking trains ... scenes that enhance and highly effectively build up suspense within the film. There is subtle humor in unexpected ways. The art dealer Daniel (Jerome Koenig) who is originally from New York but had moved to Israel, has a successful art gallery in Paris. He has uniquely humorous experiences in Russia as he tracks down an art collection he had inherited from an Uncle who died ...
The title "Golem" comes from a Jewish myth which means a creature brought to life by a rabbi or group of rabbis who know the secret word which breathes life into a man-made creation. The story unfolds as Daniel makes plans to visit Russia and get permission from the Russian Embassy to find and bring back the art collection, inherited from a deceased Uncle. He anticipates it is very valuable. He needs to tie up some loose ends in Paris with a partner Marsha (Hanna Schygulla) who runs his art gallery. Little does Daniel realize the region of Siberia called Biderbijon is where his Uncle lived. In the 1910s - 1920s Jews had settled there due to the promise of self-governance and autonomy, that is until the pogroms began by Stalin. The film gathers momentum as Daniel arrives in Russia and obtains the necessary paperwork to receive his inheritance. He finds the object ... a seven foot lower arm and hand from what would have been a giant statue. He imagines the immense value of this piece, knowing his Uncle had very excellent taste and knew great art.
The arrival in Russia when hailing a taxi was humorous, especially when the taxi driver who knew some English made some business propositions. Daniel was taken to the Russian Embasssy where other funny moments ocurred as he maneuvered through the bureacracy. After navigating the system, he finally obtained the art collection which turned out to be a seven foot statue of a forearm and right hand. There are hilarious scenes in the film when Daniel is taken to his hotel via taxi while the giant hand sits on a rack on roof of the taxi which makes the forefinger appear to be pointing ahead as if giving directions. Needless to say, it gets a lot of attention by passerbys. At the Russian hotel, the clerk knows very little English and Daniel knows even less Russian, he is told his room number is "979" on the fifth floor. Each floor has a receptionist and trying to locate his room was very funny. He received a visit from a mysterious lady who had heard about his statue, she offered to provide him information as she worked in an antiquities library ...
After this point in the story, the mystery deepens. Daniel learns about the Golem and suspects the hand and partial arm have some mysterious origins. He feels the need to visit Biderbijon, the Siberian town where his Uncle died and which was a Jewish settlement long ago. On the train ride to this remote location he meets a Russian who plays an important role in Daniel's understanding of his inherited piece of "artwork." After Daniel returns to Paris presumably with very valuabe art from Russia ... Marsha is astounded that he brings back touristy type trinkets, cheap Russian souveniers which she plays with as Daniel tells her about the unusual experiences he had in Russia and why he visited Biderbijon. The film is superbly crafted, it cleverly ties together the myth and mystery associated with the Kabala along with Jewish history, while it unravels a secret. Throughout the film, the viewer is hooked on the suspense while laughing at the humorous episodes within the Russian cultural context as Daniel, a foreigner, tries to achieve his objectives.
Erika Borsos (pepper flower)"