I’ll admit it. I still haven’t seen A Serious Man. I mean, I should. I’m planning on it. But, let’s be honest, I’m probably not going to. That doesn’t mean I can’t blog about it though.
The first Coen Brothers movie that I ever saw was The Big Lebowski. It also happens to be my favorite movie (how cliche, I know). But what always got me about the film was how Jewish the most famous scene in Lebowski is. If you don’t know it, John Goodman’s character, Walter Sobchak, goes on a tirade because their bowling team is scheduled to play on Saturday, and Walter is shomer shabbos.
What always got me about this scene is that in order to truly appreciate the scene, you have to know what shabbos is. If you don’t the scene is somewhat lost to you (Ironically, Lebowski Fest, a festival celebrating all things Big Lebowski is often held on Saturdays. Doesn’t make any sense).
But that’s just one scene. If you don’t know anything about Judaism, you can still get along fine with watching Big Lebowski. But after watching this “Behind the Scenes” of A Serious Man, provided by our good friends at JTA, I can venture to guess that someone who doesn’t get Jewish references will have issues with certain scenes in this film. What other Hollywood film uses the word agunah? That’s right. There isn’t one.
Pronounced: sho-MARE, Origin: Hebrew, a guard, usually referring to someone who sits with a dead body before the funeral.