Golem: The Petrified Garden

“Charming” isn't the way you'd describe most films by Israeli-born director Amos Gitai, but this 1993 retelling of the golem legend has a certain somber whimsy. An art dealer inherits a huge sculpted hand from a distant relative, with instructions to travel to Birobidzhan (the Siberian “homeland” that Stalin established for Jews in 1934), find the rest of the sculpture, and assemble it. His quixotic journey recalls the failed utopian quests in other Gitai films, but the humor of transporting the giant hand (at one point the dealer has to park it in the lobby of his luxury hotel in Saint Petersburg) adds a dark absurdity to the deeper theme of the material versus the spiritual, magical dreams versus harsh reality. 84 min.

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