New Digital Restoration

Now Available on DVD

THE DYBBUK / Der Dibuk

New Digital Restoration & New English Subtitles by The National Center for Jewish Film
One of the most important and influential Jewish films of all time.
$29.95 - Home Use DVD
$295.00 - Classroom/Library DVD

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The Dybbuk (Der Dibuk)
Poland, 1937, 123 minutes, B&W
Yiddish with new English subtitles
Directed by Michal Waszynski
Based on the play by S. Ansky

In this mystical tale of star crossed lovers and supernatural possession, two friends tempt fate by betrothing their unborn children. Years later when the pledge is broken and the couple’s love is thwarted, Channon the young lover (Leon Liebgold, Tevye) turns to the dangerous power of the Kabbalah to win back his love (Lili Liliana, Kol Nidre). Made in Poland on the eve of WWII in a stylized, Expressionistic manner that has been called “Hasidic Gothic,” The Dybbuk, based on S. Ansky’s play, brought together the best talents of Polish Jewry.

Boundaries separating the natural from the supernatural dissolve as ill-fated pledges, unfulfilled passions and untimely deaths ensnare two families in a tragic labyrinth of spiritual possession. The film was made on location in Poland in 1937 and brought together the best talents of Polish Jewry, script writers, composers, choreographers, set designers, actors and historical advisors. The film's exquisite musical and dance interludes evoke the cultural richness of both shtetl communities and Polish Jewry on the eve of World War II.

The Dybbuk is a Yiddish film classic based on the celebrated play of the same name by S. Ansky, written during the turbulent years of 1912-1917. The idea for the play came to Ansky as he led a Jewish folklore expedition through small towns of Eastern Europe, which was cut short by the outbreak of World War I. The Dybbuk reflects Ansky's deep perception of the shtetl's religious and cultural mores, as well as his insightful appreciation of its hidden spiritual resources. Plans to produce the play in Russian by Stanislavsky's Moscow Art Theater in 1920 were aborted by the Bolshevik Revolution. Ansky, who died in 1920 never lived to see his play produced. The play however, was destined to become one of the most widely-produced in the history of Jewish theater. Its rich ethnographic tapestry, mystical themes, star-crossed lovers and haunting melodies were designed to bridge the historical abyss.

Read NCJF Program Notes

Critic’s Pick

“One of the most solemn attestations to the mystic powers of the spirit the imagination has ever purveyed to the film reel.”

–Parker Tyler, Classics of the Foreign Film

“The Dybbuk is haunting and atmospheric, a chilling supernatural romance that functions as a privileged glimpse into the past, to a time when rabbis regularly performed prodigious miracles, when spirits of the dead wandered the Earth, and when tampering with the supernatural inevitably led to the most dire results.”

–Kenneth Turan (LA Times and National Public Radio film critic),Not Coming To Theater Near You


Boston Society of Film Critics Award - Best Discovery/Re-Discovery 1989 (following NCJF’s initial film restoration)

One of the Top 10 Jewish Films as selected by Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition.


Tsaddik of Miropole Avrom Morewski
The Messenger Isaac Samberg
Sender Moyshe Lipman
Leah, His Daughter Lili Liliana
Frayde, His Sister Dina Halpern
Nisn Gershon Lemberger
Khonnon, His Son Leon Liebgold
Note Max Bozyk
Zalmen Shmuel Landau
Nakhmen Samuel Bronecki
Menashe, His Son M. Messinger
Reb Mendel, His Tutor Zishe Katz
Mikhoel, The Gabbai Abraham Kurtz
Meyer, The Shammes David Lederman
Dancer Of Death Judith Berg

Production Company Feniks
Director Michal Waszynski
Screenplay Alter Kacyzne & Mark Arnshteyn
Based on the Original Play By S. Ansky
Script A. Stern
Artistic Director Mark Arnshteyn
Historical Advisor Majer Balaban
Cinematography Albert Wywerka
Music Henekh Kon
Cantorial Music Gershon Sirota
Choreography Judith Berg
Set Design Rotmil & Norris
Photography A. Arnold
Camera L. Zajaczkowski
Laboratory Falanga


Restoration made possible with funding from
Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation
Justin & Kenneth Freed
National Endowment for the Arts

Additional support from
British Film Institute, Library of Congress, American Film Institute, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Brandeis University, The National Center for Jewish Film’s Reel Funder Donors

Executive Director Sharon Pucker Rivo
Co-Director Lisa E. Rivo
Technical Director Rich Pontius
Academic Consultant Sylvia Fuks Fried
Translators David Roskies, Sylvia Fuks Fried
Film Laboratories Colorlab, Modulus Studios, Cinema Arts Inc

Special thanks
J. Hoberman, Miriam Krant, Robert Borowski, Jules Bernstein, Billy Mencow, Edith Everett

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