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Category:    Home > Reviews > A Tickle In The Heart (Music Documentary)

A Tickle In The Heart


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Film: B-



A Tickle In The Heart (1996) is a documentary look at the Klezmer music genre, its ethnic Jewish roots, its revival and The Epstein Brothers.  These men are some of the last “old school” survivors of all the musicians who played it.  This 84-minutes-long look at all of it by director Stefan Schwietert not only has obvious musical significance, but also captures the personalities of the men who were practically giants in their field, one that has been almost totally lost.


This consists of interviews mixed with testimonial reflections of the times in which these men lived in and witnessed many key changes.  Though that sounds like many such documentaries we have seen before, this one differs with a music genre most have not heard of before, and the wit of the Epsteins.  This can be charming, but is also yet another important part of art and history that we are learning about too late, especially for those who are only getting their appreciation for it in their twilight years, which is always a shame.  That this keeps happening says something about the society we live in, and that is not good.


The 1.78 X1 image is not anamorphic and in a modern variant of black and white, which means the gray scale is not great, and a tad greenish here.  It is obviously new, but also soft throughout.  Most oddly of all, it was shot by cinematographer Robert Richmond on the same kind of commercial monochrome stocks Steven Spielberg shot Schindler’s List on four years before, which is very disorienting to be honest.  I would have at least mixed the stocks with some color.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is adequate, but has no Pro Logic surrounds.  Extras include three trailers for other First Run DVDs, a 10-stills gallery, the full frame, color short Two Weddings (1997, 6:50), one too-brief text frame on Klezmer and how it began way back in the 15th Century, and a “Music Recommendations” section that even includes the finding of rare acetates on Yiddish Radio (www.yiddishradioproject.org) from Penguin Audio Books and Shanachie.  You can read more about this there, which will make for a solid companion to A Tickle In The Heart, another story of America as well.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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