The Jew

  • 1995
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Biography, Drama, Historical

It's difficult to imagine exactly what Portuguese director Tom Azulay had in mind when he plunged into the production of this lushly photographed historical drama. As a biography of 18th-century Portuguese playwright Antonio Jose da Silva (Felip Pinheiro), who fell victim to the Inquisition's auto- de-fe, it's maddeningly insubstantial. As a political allegory,...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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It's difficult to imagine exactly what Portuguese director Tom Azulay had in mind when he plunged into the production of this lushly photographed historical drama. As a biography of 18th-century Portuguese playwright Antonio Jose da Silva (Felip

Pinheiro), who fell victim to the Inquisition's auto- de-fe, it's maddeningly insubstantial. As a political allegory, it's too bluntly obvious to be provocative. Da Silva's family is forced to emigrate to Lisbon after his mother is denounced by the Inquisition as a practicing Jew, and Da

Silva converts to Catholicism. He becomes known for his satirical plays and puppet shows, and eventually finds himself before the dreaded tribunal, accused of profaning scripture and covertly living according to the laws of Moses. He's apparently found guilty -- the shadowy proceedings of the

Inquisition are rendered even more so by the film's fragmentary structure -- and summarily tortured in some truly grueling dungeon scenes. The film does a fair job of illustrating the logic of the Inquisition: By asserting the primacy of faith over reason, the Church justified its own injustices

and protected its considerable power. But if Azulay simply means to use a historical holocaust to remind us that we're still surrounded by genocidal intolerance, then Arthur Miller has long since beaten him to the punch.

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  • Released: 1995
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: It's difficult to imagine exactly what Portuguese director Tom Azulay had in mind when he plunged into the production of this lushly photographed historical drama. As a biography of 18th-century Portuguese playwright Antonio Jose da Silva (Felip Pinheiro)… (more)

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