A Letter to Mother's tale of family disintegration and poverty serves as a metaphor for the displacements which faced European Jews anew after the end of the First World War. One of the last Yiddish films made in Poland before the Nazi invasion, the film tells the story of a mother's persistent efforts to support her family. While her husband, a ne'er-do-well, has fled to America, Dobrish struggles to care for her three children in pre-WWI Polish Ukraine. Soon after his abandonment of the family, the father sends for the youngest boy to come to America, but makes no effort to bring over Dobrish or the other children. After her family is pulled apart by severe poverty and the turmoil of war, Dobrish makes her way to New York and turns to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) to find her youngest son, who has since disappeared after her husband died.
Released on September 14, 1939, two weeks after the German blitzkrieg over Poland, this film opened to packed audiences at the Belmont Theater in New York. Hailed by the New York Times as one of the best Yiddish films to reach America, A Letter to Mother was the highest grossing Yiddish film of its time. Anyone who has grown up among Jews -- but especially on the eastern coastline of the United States -- will immediately recognize the family dynamics, humor, emotions and attitudes distinctly unique to Jewish families, which seem to have altered very little since the majority emigrated to the U.S. in the early 20th Century. But for those people who actually grew up in Jewish families, this film will set loose a torrent of conflicting emotions as the viewer will be able to readily identify with a culture and history, which is slowly disappearing over time. A Letter to Mama is the ultimate, Jewish tearjerker. It deserves all its praise ... even today.
DVD-R IS IN YIDDISH WITH HARD-ENCODED ENGLISH SUBTITLES. HOWEVER: THE CONDITION OF THE PRINT MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO READ THESE SUBTITLES VERY OFTEN. AND ALSO, THESE SUBTITLES ARE NOT VERY ACCURATE SOMETIMES. THEREFORE, WE HAVE ADDED OPTIONAL, EASIER-TO-READ AND MORE ACCURATE SUBTITLES. THEY CAN BE TURNED ON OR OFF AS NEEDED.
APPROX. 106 MINS. WORN VHS QUALITY, BUT WELL WORTH THE INVESTMENT!