It’s about post-World War II Jewish identity. Initially antagonistic, the two boys, who are roughly the same age, eventually become very close, fueling the older Martin’s obsessive desire to learn why he disappeared and what became of him thereafter. Based on a novel by Norman Lebrecht (the screenplay is by Jeffrey Caine) and directed by François Girard, “The Song of Names” is a pointed demonstration that “survivor’s guilt” is a rather more complex state than the slightly glib phrase suggests.In his late adolescence, agonizing over the still-unknown fate of his family, Dovidl renounces Judaism and acts out in other ways. Adapted from a novel by the English classical-music critic Norman Lebrecht, The Song Of Names opens in 1951, at what’s supposed to be the London debut of a young Polish-born violinist, David Eli Rapoport. Yet always he felt a hollowness at its core. It's the story of a young Polish Jewish genius violinist who is brought to London in the summer of 1939 by his f Norman Lebrecht is a British social critic and the author of several novels and works of non-fiction. Above all, it’s about music: what it means to make it, to devote one’s self to it and how it can be used to exalt the ego or the divine. Sometimes a life is shaped more by a missing presence than by its existing relationships and deeds. It’s about the ravages of war on faith and what it means to worship. Consequently, adult Martin’s quest to find Dovidl carries little emotional weight, with Roth often looking more weary than determined—this guy might as well have been hired by a client, frankly. It’s about the bonds of family, both those forged by blood and by choice. Forty years later, a chance event hints that Dovidl is still alive. Dovidl was coping with being the only member of his family to survive, so Martin gave his friend’s other activities the benefit of the doubt. The two boys grew up together in wartime London, Dovidl a refugee from the soon-to-be-destroyed Warsaw ghetto. It soon becomes clear that he recognizes this gesture, and the film spends its first hour alternating between 1986, as Martin follows this clue and others in search of a ghost that still haunts him, and the years during and immediately following World War II, during which Martin’s family takes Jewish refugee Rapoport (whose first name is actually Dovidl) into their home. In a good detective story, the investigation tends to be more important than the solution. (Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction). The film then jumps forward 35 years, as the middle-aged Martin (now played by Roth), who either works or moonlights as a judge of musical competitions, takes notice of a boy with an unusual bow-rosining ritual. The boys come of age together, bratty and spoiled only-child Martin maturing into a respectable young man in the presence of Dovidl, a charismatic and increasingly troubled genius tortured by not knowing the fate of his family in Warsaw. It’s an unnecessarily complicated puzzle-box construction that only serves to cheapen the story and diminish its impact. There is a spark of genius in Dovidl’s music-making, one that cannot be allowed to be snuffed out by WWII. ‘Song of Names’ is a needlessly complicated story exploring the sudden disappearance of a young violin prodigy in the years after World War II. Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad. “The Song of Names” is a movie with deep meditations on its mind. Indelible performances and pungent dialogue make that film great, whereas the answers to its narrative questions are largely an afterthought (with one question notoriously never answered at all). Our summaries and analyses are written by experts, and your questions are answered by real teachers. Thirty-five years later, a middle-aged Martin, now a music consultant, experiences a spark of recognition when he notices another violinist’s ritualistic fiddling with a hunk of rosin. That’s decidedly not the case with The Song Of Names, in which Tim Roth plays an amateur sleuth trying to find out what became of a childhood friend who mysteriously vanished. Only $5 for 3 months. Soon the mystery is solved. For as much time as we spend with present-day Martin, we never really get to know him, so singular is his focus on a man we can’t see – a man whose whereabouts prove far less interesting than the emotional and spiritual journey he took to get there, and which ultimately gets the short shrift. Or is it? It recalls an old habit of Dovidl’s and sets Martin off on a scavenger hunt around the globe to track down his long-lost brother and at last solve the mystery of his disappearance. Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed. Then, on the night of his grand coming-out concert in 1951, Dovidl and his angelic violin go missing, leaving Martin’s family in financial and emotional ruins. In late adolescence Dovidl subtly changed. “The Song of Names” begins with a disappearance: In 1951, David Eli Rapoport, a violinist of around 21, is set to make a splash on the London stage. What he discovers is powerfully moving, but every step of his journey—and of the copious flashbacks that fill in various blanks—tests the viewer’s patience. Or is Dovidl a masterful escape artist, and Martin’s sense of loss just an excuse for underachievement? Who can even remember, for example, what Bogart’s gumshoe gets hired to do, or even what he ultimately discovers, in The Big Sleep? Martin and Dovidl (played as adults by Tim Roth and Clive Owen) were brothers in spirit if not by blood or faith. Far from heightening the sense of mystery, the flashback construction renders the present-day dramatically inert, giving fine actors little to do save deliver exposition. To the very end, both Martin’s and Dovidl’s stories pose questions for the reader. © 2020 eNotes.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The story jumps between three different timelines, one of which centers on the two main characters as preteen boys, who are shown stealing with both glee and justification. SUBSCRIBE NOW. As he prepared for his first public concert, he seemed as consumed by music as ever, but his mysterious late-evening ventures hinted at darker involvements.
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