The Jester

This musical comedy set in a Galician shtetl contrasts the charm and honesty of Getsl, a sad vagabond jester, with the cynicism of Dick, a vaudeville performer. While Dick is the one who wins the heart of beautiful Esther, a shoemaker's daughter, the unfortunate Getsl is the movie's true hero and the object of emotional identification. His carnivalesque Purim performance constitutes his most glorious moment and is also the film's most charged and memorable scene, a celebration of personal transformation and social resistance. The timid Getsl drives off Ester's rich suitor, thus saving her from a forced arranged marriage and becoming the spokesman against the corruption of the wealthy. J. Hoberman described the film as “a wistful romance that's interspersed with songs but rooted in the wisecracks and banter of oral Yiddish culture.”

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