The Light Ahead ★★★

A community together
But full of "ehs" and superstition.
A rabbi of true wisdom
Allows the cripple to prosper.

Pretty uninteresting in terms of aesthetics (mostly static two shots), but then again the emphasis for Ulmer’s film was to make something for the community he worked with. What becomes interesting here is seeing this story in terms of a “progressive Judaism,” where instead of bracing old traditions (“Better a Jew with no beard than a bead with no Jew”), the film instead suggests that real faith would try and embrace science and modernism. In Noah Isenberg’s book, he quotes Shirley Ulmer (co-writer here), “Edgar always had sympathy for any outcast or anybody who had a disability or what a fugitive…any outcast was one of his children.” The film thus leads with two cripples abandoning the old world for something better where they could have a chance to make it, something I’m very sure Jews in America during the late 1930s could identify with.

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