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The Chosen (1981) with Maximilian Schell and Rod Steiger -- More Than One Version, with Different Wedding Dance Scene?


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Tonight I watched, for the first time in many years, the 1981 film The Chosen.  Most of the film was as I remembered it, down to even details of dialogue.  However, there was one scene where my memory was so different from what was on my DVD that I wondered whether there might be two variant versions of the film.

The scene in question is the wedding scene.  At one point the Rabbi (Rod Steiger) comes out to dance, and the first part of his dance is slow, passionate, romantic, a gradual build-up of tension seeming to represent the longing of the young bride and groom (or at least of the young groom, as the dance is taking place on the men's side of the partition).  But then comes the part that departs from my memory.  In the print I watched tonight, after the slow part ends, the rabbi sits down, the music speeds up and becomes more intense, and the rabbi begins to pound on the table with increasing vigor, a vigor seeming to represent the turning of longing into fulfillment.  Now I definitely remember a transition from longing to fulfillment, but I remember the scene differently.  In my (perhaps false) memory, Rod Steiger's rabbi does not sit down, but continues the dance, and as the music speeds up, he starts to twirl in a circle, perhaps on his tiptoes, at ever-increasing speed, like a "whirling dervish."  The burst of speed into a reckless abandon then represents the fulfillment. 

And not only do I seem to remember seeing the scene in this alternate form; I even seem to remember some commentator (must have been on television, or on some special feature on some DVD other than this one) interpreting this alternate form of the scene in this way.

There are two possibilities.  One, there never was any such scene as this in any print of the film, whether at the theaters, on DVD, etc.  In that case, some false memory has fused with my memory of the actual film.  Perhaps I saw another film in which a slow dance burst into a fury of whirling, and it has become linked with The Chosen in my mind.  Alternately, there may have been more than one print of the film, with slightly different versions of the wedding scene, and I'm remembering a version that didn't find its way onto my DVD, but did appear either when I last saw it on TV or when I first saw it in a projected version at a university film event.

If anyone remembers the scene as I remember it, I'd be grateful for a confirmation of my memory.  On the other hand, if everyone here is sure that there was never any whirling, but only pounding on the table, I'd like to know that as well.  I do know that sometimes I seem to have invented memories of long-ago-viewed film scenes, especially when the invented memory seems thematically fitting.  This may be such a case, but maybe not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Chosen is a wonderful movie, evocative of Jewish New York after World War II.  I think of it as sort of a Jewish Brideshead Revisited, with an Orthodox (i.e. more liberal) boy and a Hasidic boy.  I wish I remembered the scene in question; I do remember Rod Steiger dancing, but not the specifics mentioned. One of Steiger's great performances, and Maximilian Schell was great as well, as the fathers of the boys. (Steiger was Oscar-nominated for a previous performance as a Jewish character in The Pawnbroker.)

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