Hava Nagila (The Movie) 2.0 stars

Hava Nagila (The Movie) movie poster

At last, an answer to the burning question, “Why the big magila over Hava Nagila?” The infectious wedding and bar mitzvah dance standard is given the talking head (kibitzing kop?) treatment in this enjoyable, if not rigorously fluffy documentary. From the shtetls of Ukraine to Canter’s Deli in L.A., director Roberta Grossman’s documentary musical spans the globe to trace the origins of the Yiddish "Star Spangled Banner." An array of rabbis, music scholars, and other assorted Hasidim are on hand to lend historical credence. Screenwriter Sophie Sartain did her research, exhaustively tracking down virtually every version filmed of the song. (Who remembers a hora in Thoroughly Modern Millie?) Ironically, it’s the presence of old school showbiz goyim — Connie Francis, Harry Belafonte, Glen Campbell, Johnny "Haro" Yune — added to the countless times this putz has willingly interrupted a festival meal to dance in a circle — that made it a personal nostalgia goldmine. 2012.

Scott Marks

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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