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9.24.2021: Alex Reviews the Film “The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch” (2018)

Alex reviews a German/Yiddish film The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch (Michael Steiner, 2018)

I recently watched The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch (Michael Steiner, 2018) on Netflix. The movie is a comedy that follows the main character Motti and his struggle to meet his family’s expectations. Motti is an orthodox Jewish man living in Switzerland, and his family expects him to find a Jewish wife to marry. He just wants his parents to leave him alone about finding a wife. The movie is very funny, and I enjoyed watching it, but it may be a challenge if you are an intermediate German student, because a lot of the film is in Yiddish.

I typically watch German movies with German subtitles. I usually don’t need the subtitles because listening is what I am best at when it comes to German (I struggle with speaking). I am glad I had the subtitles on because the movie switches languages quite a bit. It mainly goes between German and Yiddish with some Hebrew. German and Yiddish are similar languages. They have similar sounds, some of the same words, similar grammar structure, and the same word order. In the movie, oftentimes, there was a sentence in German and then one in Yiddish. This confused my brain a lot because I would hear a language that I know, and then a sentence later, it would be a language that I kind of understood. Even with the German subtitles, the Yiddish really made me think. This is why I say it may be a challenge for German language learners to listen to the movie. For me, it was a great challenge to hear both languages. I felt like I had to focus and read the subtitles while watching this movie. Hearing the two languages made sure I was actually listening and not letting the information go in one ear and out the other.

I found it interesting how characters in the movie were able to switch between German and Yiddish. Motti, the main character, would constantly switch between German and Yiddish depending on who he was talking to. While Motti is a fictional character, he represents many people who know multiple languages and how their life is affected by that. Many students here at UIC speak different languages at home with their family and friends than they do at school. I feel like students could relate to Motti, even though they do not have the German/Yiddish experience.

The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch was a great movie that provided me with a good challenge with my language studies and also provided me a new perspective on people who speak different languages in different aspects of their life.

A warning to watchers: There are sexual scenes and strong language.