Shalom Life | August 05, 2015

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.

WATCH: Amy Schumer Talks Jennifer Lawrence, Trainwreck with Jon Stewart WATCH: Amy Schumer Talks Jennifer Lawrence, Trainwreck with Jon Stewart TrendingReports: Kanye West is Performing in Israel Reports: Kanye West is Performing in Israel TrendingJason Segel Opens Up About Growing Jewish (and Christian) Jason Segel Opens Up About Growing Jewish (and Christian) Trending
 

Jews Still Face Anti-Semitism at Maccabi Games in Berlin

August 04, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Jews Still Face Anti-Semitism at Maccabi Games in Berlin

Though many feel vindicated at Jewish Olympics being held in Germany, many athletes still face anti-Semitism

Read More

Anti-Semitic Twitter Troll Ordered to Pay Compensation

August 04, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Anti-Semitic Twitter Troll Ordered to Pay Compensation

Court orders 17-year-old to pay British-Jewish businessman Lord Alan Sugar

Read More

Israeli Device Lets You Make 3D Artistic Designs on Your Cappuccinos

August 04, 2015 | By Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels
Israeli Device Lets You Make 3D Artistic Designs on Your Cappuccinos

The Ripple Maker is bringing latte art to a whole new level

Read More

Women Banned from Owning Smartphones at Hasidic School

August 04, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Women Banned from Owning Smartphones at Hasidic School

Mothers and daughters alike will be expected to abide by the school's new policy

Read More

Pharrell Williams to be Protested by BDS Activists in South Africa

August 04, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Pharrell Williams to be Protested by BDS Activists in South Africa

Activists targeting the superstar over promotional deal with retailer Woolworths, which has trade ties with Israel

Read More

Everything You Need to Know About Drake's OVO Festival

August 04, 2015 | By Daina Goldfinger
Everything You Need to Know About Drake's OVO Festival

The Toronto rapper has been making non-stop media headlines as of late

Read More

WATCH: Amy Schumer Talks Jennifer Lawrence, Trainwreck with Jon Stewart

August 04, 2015 | By Daina Goldfinger
WATCH: Amy Schumer Talks Jennifer Lawrence, Trainwreck with Jon Stewart

Schumer appears in the final days of The Daily Show with Stewart as host

Read More

Israel Wins 61 Medals in Special Olympics

August 03, 2015 | By Avraham Teshuva, Lea Schneider
Israel Wins 61 Medals in Special Olympics

Of the medals won in Los Angeles, 25 are gold, 18 silver and 18 bronze

Read More

More Headlines