Shalom Life | November 28, 2014

The Last of the Wild Jews

Upcoming Bravo documentary explores Mordecai Richler's influence on the Jewish cultural explosion of the 20th century.

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: December 21st, 2010 in Culture » Film » Reviews

The Last of the Wild Jews

The latter portion of 2010 has become decidedly saturated with all things Mordecai Richler. There is the acclaimed biography from Charles Foran, Mordecai: The Life and Times that came out earlier in the fall. Not to mention the much-anticipated screen adaptation of Barney’s Version, opening in theatres December 24th. Now, there is the documentary, Mordecai Richler: The Last of the Wild Jews, airing on Bravo December 25th. Co-written by Foran, and directed by Quebec filmmaker Francine Pelletier, the hour long film makes a compelling thesis of the idea that Richler was part of a Jewish cultural explosion, both literary and popular culture that transpired for roughly two decades in the 20th century. “He was one of a whole generation of writers – but not just writers, also entertainers – who are sons of immigrants, born here in big North American cities, brought up in the shadow of the Holocaust, and became these natural-born agitators and who wanted desperately to break with the idea of the timid little Jewish boy. Not caring what the goy think, criticizing Jewish culture and having a helluva time. Mordecai was part of that. Once you understood that, I think you understand him better.” Pelletier explained to the Montreal Gazette.

The film examines how Richler was a member of this rebel generation that included Saul Bellow, Norman Mailler, and Philip Roth amongst others, who worked hard, played hard, and rattled as many cages in the process. It can be traced back to Issac Babel (whom Richler idolized, we learn from the film) who chronicled the “wild Jews” (gamblers, con men et al) of Odessa during the Russian Revolution.

Through insightful interviews and anecdotes from those who knew Richler best, the famously contrary writer in public, is revealed to be a shy, reserved, complex individual in private. Margaret Attwood, Jack Rabinovitch (a friend since high school), cartoonist Terry Mosher, Adam Gopnik from the New Yorker and Rex Murphy, all offer their respective insights from Richler’s early days living in London, to his late-career attacks on Québécois nationalism. By far, the most poignant moments come courtesy of Richler’s dignified widow, Florence who divulged that she always understood that his work would come first, and she second. That said the pair were together for four decades.

Mordecai Richler: The Last of the Wild Jews airs again on Bravo Saturday, December 25 at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.

Seth Rogen Invites Millions of Twitter Fans to Get High With Him Seth Rogen Invites Millions of Twitter Fans to Get High With Him TrendingJewish Hall of Fame: Billy Joel Jewish Hall of Fame: Billy Joel TrendingLena Dunham Rocks Out to Hip Hop Song Named After Her [VIDEO] Lena Dunham Rocks Out to Hip Hop Song Named After Her [VIDEO] Trending
 

Startup Club: Leap Motion

November 27, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
Startup Club: Leap Motion

With a wave of a hand, the company allows you to use your Mac or PC in a whole new way for games, design, and more

Read More

Breakthrough Jew - Mendy Pellin

November 27, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Breakthrough Jew - Mendy Pellin

Pellin was referred to by The New York Times as "Stephen Colbert with a beard and a black hat."

Read More

Top 20 Things to do in Israel During the Winter

November 27, 2014 | By Abigail Klein Leichman
Top 20 Things to do in Israel During the Winter

Ski in the Hermon, watch the migratory birds, see the holiday lights, dance the lindy hop there's plenty of fun to heat up chilly days.

Read More

Natalie Portman to Star in Steve Jobs Biopic?

November 27, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Natalie Portman to Star in Steve Jobs Biopic?

The 'Thor' actress is in negotiations to star in Danny Boyle's upcoming film following the Apple co-founder.

Read More

Sarah Jessica Parker to Launch Shoe Line in Dubai

November 27, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Sarah Jessica Parker to Launch Shoe Line in Dubai

The SJP Collection will be available at Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale's in Dubai.

Read More

Melissa Rivers Posts Thanksgiving Wishes From Mom Joan’s Account

November 27, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Melissa Rivers Posts Thanksgiving Wishes From Mom Joan’s Account

Rivers "finally figured out" her mom's Twitter password, takes the opportunity to wish her fans a Happy Thanksgiving.

Read More

Seth Rogen Invites Millions of Twitter Fans to Get High With Him

November 27, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Seth Rogen Invites Millions of Twitter Fans to Get High With Him

'The Interview' star wants followers to "get baked" with him in Denver.

Read More

You Can Now Take a Virtual Tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp

November 27, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
You Can Now Take a Virtual Tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp

The Auschwitz museum has unveiled a new virtual tour on its website

Read More

More Headlines