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The Ancient Law (Das alte Gesetz) Germany / 1923

In the mid 1800s, Baruch, the son of an orthodox rabbi, yearns to become an actor. Against his father’s will, he leaves the shtetl where he grew up and joins a travelling theatre troupe where he meets Austrian archduchess Elisabeth Theresia. Secretly in love with him, she arranges for him to join the company at Vienna’s Burg Theatre, where he rises to become a celebrated star of the stage. But Baruch continues to long for home, and must find a way to reconcile his religious heritage with his love of secular literature.

Digitally restored in 2017, E. A. Dupont’s 1923 film presents a complex portrayal of the tensions between tradition and modernity in 19th century Jewish Europe.

135 mins / German (English intertitles)

Director — EA Dupont

Category — Retrospective Feature