Back in the early 80s when this film was made director/actor/screenwriter/producer Barbra Streisand was blazing a path for women. Never before had a woman had her hands in so many pies when it came to the making of a film. She was totally responsible for what appeared onscreen and never before had such faith/trust been placed in a woman. Barbra Streisand should be applauded for what she did for women in film to come.
This is a story of a young woman named Yentl who risks everything because of her desire to learn. At the turn of the 20th century in Eastern Europe, after her beloved father (Nehemiah Persoff – The Last Temptation of Christ, An American Tale), who had been secretly teaching his daughter the Torah, dies, the young Jewish woman leaves her city and begins mascarading as a young man in order to continue her education. Taking the name of Anshel (Barbra Streisand – Meet the Fockers, The Prince of Tides) she enters the yeshiva, which is forbidden to women, in order to continue her education.
There she meets fellow student Avigdor (Mandy Pantikin – from television's Criminal Mind) and they become close friends. Avigdor has no idea, nor does anyone else, that Anshel is really a woman. Anshel soon distinguishes herself/himself as the strongest student at the yeshiva.
A difficult situation arises that threatens to jeopardize Yentl's position at the yeshiva. She finds herself falling in love with Avigdor, who is engaged to Hadass (Amy Irving – Tuck Everlasting, Traffic). This becomes a sticky threesome.
In her first film as a director, the eye for detail that Barbra Streisand brings to everything in her life is apparent in every frame of this wonderful film. It is completely a personal film for Streisand and she brings her strength, passion and intelligence to it.
Wonderful as a director and an actor the strength of her performance is her marvellous singing voice and all it brings to the story. Through her voice you get an insight into the character I'm not sure any other actor could have brought. Her voice and the songs really effectively tell the story.
Yentl is the type of film that can be enjoyed regardless of age, gender, culture, religion or background. Its themes are important and universal. Its story poignant and funny. The story of a woman who fought against a man's world is still relevant today.
-Theatrical and extended version
-An Introduction by Barbra Streisand
-The Director's Reel
-The Rehearsal Process
-Deleted Songs – Storyboard Sequences