"World Cinema: Israel"

My book, "World Cinema: Israel" (originally published in 1996) is available from Amazon on "Kindle", with an in-depth chapter comparing and analyzing internationally acclaimed Israeli films up to 2010.

Want to see some of the best films of recent years? Just scroll down to "best films" to find listings of my recommendations.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mother-Daughter Relations

One of my favorite Israeli feature films of all time is about the complexities of the mother-daughter connection. Blind Man's Bluff (Aner Preminger, 1993) deals with a mother's stifling and manipulative demands on her daughter and the daughter's initial striving to comply with those demands. The daughter eventually summons all of her strength to break out of the cycle of expectations, and to assert her own independence, although causing pain in the process.

Blind Man's Bluff, based on a book by Lily Perry, is a rich and sensitive film about a young woman named Mickey, studying to be a concert pianist. Mickey is an only child, a single woman, and a second generation Holocaust survivor. Her overbearing mother is a major obstacle in her path to independence and maturity. Mickey is also frustrated in her relationships with men – a ruthless violinist who uses her to build his own career, a lawyer who leads her on, her aging grandfather, and her weak father.

Mickey's mother has devoted her life to pushing her daughter ahead in her career. She helped her from her earliest piano recital as a child and now, years later, Mickey plays piano for her mother's ballet school. Both Mickey and her mother want more for her, but ironically, the more her mother pushes her, the more Mickey finds it difficult to lead the life of her mother's dreams. She must chart her own path. Befriended by a young prostitute, sporting outrageously flamboyant clothes (a metaphor for the opposite of her mother's dreams for her), Mickey slowly begins to find her own way.

A film of depth, Blind Man's Bluff is about a woman's loneliness, growth and development. As she gains independence and learns not to live only by the expectations of others, she becomes more ambivalent about her own future. According to director Aner Preminger, the title of the film refers to the children's game in which people attack you, use you and exploit you until you gather sufficient strength to break out of the circle. In Hebrew, the title Golem Be'Ma'agal has an additional meaning, referring to Mickey's smashing the cocoon of family and friends as she matures towards independence.

Blind Man's Bluff is available from the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University.

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