Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tumbalalaika Around the World: Yiddish Song Surfaces in Italian Movie


When we started a series a few weeks ago about the popularity of the Yiddish song Tumbalalaika we weren't sure where the road would lead as we followed the song around the world. Just like the appearance of Hava Nagila in unexpected places, this song is showing up in some surprising locales.

Today we're looking at a 2002 Italian film titled Prendimi l'anima (The Soul Keeper) by film maker Roberto Faenza about a love affair between the psychoanalyst Carl Jung and a young Russian Jewish girl, Sabina Spielrein. Here's a summary of the plot:

In 1905 a 19-year-old Russian girl suffering from severe hysteria is admitted into a psychiatric hospital in Zurich. A young doctor, Carl Gustav Jung, takes her under his care and for the first time experiments with the psychoanalytical method of his teacher, Sigmund Freud. Based on recently exposed secret correspondence between Jung, Freud and Sabina Spielrein, this true story begins with the Spielrein's healing, closely related to her passionate love affair with Jung, followed by her return to post-revolutionary Russia where she became Switzerland's first female psychoanalyst.

So what does this have to do with Tumbalalaika? Beats us. But the song is the musical background of the last five minutes of the film as it plays repeatedly in a sequence where the doctors and patients of the asylum dance to its haunting melody.

If you want to see the film, it's available for rental from Netflix. It's not rated, but does include some frontal nudity. (But not in the clip we're showing here.) Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)