The Ancient Law


Co-presented by GPJFF and the National
Museum of American Jewish History

Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Time: 7 PM
Location: National Museum of American Jewish History

Director: Ewald André Dupont
Genre: Narrative Feature
Country: Germany
Year: 1923
Running Time: 2 hr 8 min
Language: In German with English subtitles

General Admission: $20

Buy Tickets HERE

*Silent film with live music score performed by Donald Sosin and Alicia Svigals

One of the hottest tickets at the 68th Berlinale, Ewald André Dupont’s classic German silent film, THE ANCIENT LAW, tells the story of Baruch (Ernst Deutsch), the son of a rabbi in Galicia during the 1860s. After participating in his shtetl’s Purim spiel, Baruch catches the acting bug and leaves home against his father’s will to join a traveling theater troupe. Once in Vienna, an Austrian archduchess develops feelings for Baruch and endeavors to turn him into a great classical actor. While his love of secular literature has not waned, Baruch’s longing for home consumes him and he soon returns to his family and life in the shtetl.

Made during the mass migration of Eastern European Jews fleeing the Russian Revolution and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, THE ANCIENT LAW‘s depiction of 19th century Jewish life in Europe is sympathetic to the Orthodox Jewish culture of Europe’s nascent refugee population while still highlighting the tension between tradition and modernity. Four years after its release, THE ANCIENT LAW served as the primary source material for The Jazz Singer (1927), one of Hollywood’s first “talkies,” in which a cantor’s son leaves home to sing jazz in the theater.

The restoration of this lost masterpiece of German-Jewish cinema was made possible by a collaboration between the Deutsche Kinemathek and ARRI laboratory, together with ZDF and ARTE.



  • “E.A. Dupont, one of Germany’s major silent directors, orchestrates both the overall grandeur and the human intimacy, maintaining that ambiguous emotional tone that hovers between tragedy and comedy, and between the satirical and open-hearted.” (Michael Barrett, PopMatters)

Featured Musicians

Alicia Svigals is the world’s leading klezmer fiddler, a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, which she
co-led for 17 years, and a composer who was selected to be a 2014 MacDowell Fellow. She has played with
and composed for violinist Itzhak Perlman, the Kronos Quartet, playwrights Tony Kushner and Eve Ensler, the
late poet Allen Ginsberg, and Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Svigals has appeared on David
Letterman, MTV, PBS’ Great Performances, NPR’s Prairie Home Companion, and on the soundtrack for The L Word.

Donald Sosin is an award-winning pianist and composer who grew up in Rye, NY and Munich, Germany. Since 1971, he has performed his silent film music at Lincoln Center, MoMA, the Kennedy Center, and major film festivals here and abroad. He records for Criterion, Kino, Milestone, and TCM. He has played his scores for Jewish-themed silent films at the New York, Cleveland, and Washington Jewish Film Festivals. His one-act opera for families, Esther, was performed at the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA.