Eastern Europe, 1904. A Jewish woman, Yentl, has a thirst for knowledge but is prohibited from learning due to the restrictions of her religion. When her father dies, she sets off to increase her knowledge, posing as a man in order to gain admission to a Jewish religious school.Written by
For this film, Barbra Streisand became the first woman ever to win the Golden Globe for Best Director. She was later nominated for Best Director at both the Golden Globes and Directors Guild of America Awards for The Prince of Tides (1991). She has to this day never been nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards but handed out the Oscar for Best Director the first and only time it has been won by a woman (by Kathryn Bigelow). See more »
When watching Yentl, there is one criticism that you have to throw to throw out immediately, or you will not make it. And this criticism applies to any film ever made about a man or a woman who tries to pretend he/she is of the other gender. Barbara Streisand/Yentl is a woman, not a man. She does not look like a man, no matter how hard she tries (and she didn't try very hard in this film). And those who make consistent close contact with he/she should be horse whipped for not knowing the difference. But I gradually just ignored that fact as the movie got better and better.
No one can deny that this is yet another vanity project for Babs. Or that the music in Yentl pretty much all sounds the same. Or that Babs has no problem showing overly gratuitous male nudity, but won't even give us a glimpse herself. But Yentl is a very deep character and film, which are always hard to come by. Not just of one character, but of three, which is really hard to come by. Babs herself is servicable as an actress, but it is Amy Irving and Mandy Pitakin who really shine in this film. Both really laid it all on the line. It shows, and they make this film.
As a writer, director and producer, Babs tries to make her mark (as she does in all her films), but who doesn't? She makes her mark with reliable "different" techniques in dialogue and direction, but doesn't try to throw it in our face. She's serviceable as producer, director, and actress. Of course, you're crazy if you try to deny the woman her musical talent. All the songs in Yentl SOUND the same, but they are not written the same. All the songs fit well within the framework, and tell us what Yentl is feeling at the time. Exactly what they were meant to. Perhaps the film shouldn't have ended in a song.
Not that affirmative action has any place in Hollywood, but Babs has really gotten the shaft over the years. With Penny Marshall, she's arguably the most accomplished female director in Hollywood HISTORY and has nothing to show for it. I'm not saying that everything she's ever done is even worthy of attention, but surely this was. I have a feeling that if Yentl had been directed by a man, it would have had a picture and director nomination, especially in a year where The GOD AWFUL Big Chill was so recognized.
Yentl is a film that tells a story of a turn of the century Jewish girl who wants to study like the boys do. It's a somewhat interesting story, but the real meat of the story is what happens as a result of Yentl's decisions and the performances of Pitakin and Amy Irving.
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