The Dybbuk is a classic Yiddish movie (based on a play, which is still performed in various languages). The movie plot, in a nutshell: In a shtetl (pre-Holocaust Eastern European small town with a large Jewish population), Khonnen, a poor student, and Leye, a rich merchant's daughter, fall in love (their parents pledged that they would marry). But Leye's father is making her marry a rich man's son. Khonnen responds by studying the forbidden Kabbala and then drops dead in mystical ecstasy. At the wedding, Leye becomes possessed by Khonnen's spirit. The rest of the community wants to get him out. (It's been described as "Romeo and Juliet meets The Exorcist.")
(The names of the characters above are transliterated from Yiddish; they may appear in other forms in different sources.)
1937, Poland. Directed by Michal Waszynski. Based on a play by S. Ansky. Starring Leon Liebgold, Lili Liliana, Abraham Morewski.
- Arranged Marriage (forced)
- Beard of Evil, averted: Since it's set in an old ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, most men have long, thick beards, sometimes white. The men tend to be stern and grim and sometimes forbidding, but not at all evil.
- Black Magic
- Childhood Marriage Promise—a variation: Khonnen and Leye's fathers promised their children would marry, before they were born.
- Demonic Possession
- Long Hair Is Feminine: Leye is very feminine, sweet and innocent, and has two waist-length braids.
- Love Makes You Crazy
- Love Makes You Evil and Anti-Villain, arguably: Khonnen becomes a spirit who possesses his beloved, after calling on Satan for assistance.
- Religion Is Magic
- Star-Crossed Lovers
- Things Man Was Not Meant to Know—the Kabbala was traditionally considered too dangerous to study unless you were over 40, married and with a family, for your own protection. Khonnen is an example of this.