Enemies, A Love Story (Paul Mazursky, 1989)

Thursday, April 27, 2017 • 1 Iyar 5777

6:45 PM - 9:00 PMB'nai Havurah

We will begin with refreshments at 6:45 pm; we will view the film at 7:15 and end the evening with discussion, facilitated by Simon Zalkind. 

Set in New York City in 1949, the story follows Holocaust survivor Herman Broder. Throughout the war he survived hidden in a hayloft, taken care of by his Gentile Polish servant, Yadwiga, whom he later takes as his wife in America. Meanwhile, he has a passionate affair with another Holocaust survivor, Masha. To Yadwiga, he poses as a traveling book-salesman despite the fact he is a ghost writer for a corrupt rabbi. He wanders about New York with a constant paranoia and perpetual desperation, made more complicated when his first wife from Poland, Tamara, who was thought to have been killed in the Holocaust comes to New York.

Enemies: A Love Story,"based on the novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer, contains the clue to this story in its title. Who are the enemies? The women that Herman loves. Why are they his enemies? Because love presumes commitment, and Herman is not capable of commitment, is not even capable of forming a working faith in the future. Many others have suffered much more at the hands of the Nazis than he did - he was lucky, up there in his hayloft - but he has lived under the threat of death for so long that no relationship can have any meaning for him. As he scurries between his three women, desperately trying to keep all three happy or at least placated, what drives him is not love but guilt.

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