ITZHAK – Alison Chernick directed this documentary on the life of Itzhak Perlman, one of the greatest contemporary violinists on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his career. The movie takes us from the time that Perlman, who as a child suffered from polio, started playing in his native Israel, the family’s move to New York, his enrolment at the Julliard School of Music and eventually the launching of a career that would make him a household name in concert halls all over the world.
Chernick’s approach to her subject is well-balanced between the drama of being a disabled boy and how that eventually was not an obstacle to pursuing his goal, the emotional moments especially the relationship with his wife, and also a good dose of humour. His passion for baseball is also well illustrated when he was honoured at the beginning of a Yankees game. Inserted in all those passages of Itzhak’s life the film shows us the family’s struggling beginnings when just moved to New York, his experiences with some of his teachers, and an emotional re-encounter with Israeli audiences in the 1970s. More recent shootings show him during a visit to Israel and a meeting with his native country’s prime minister.
“Itzhak” which has been released this weekend would appeal to anyone interested in classical music, but also to those who merely want to know more about a man who despite his physical disability was able to overcome that hurdle. It is also a tribute to those like Perlman able to deal with the cultural shock of moving to another country, to in the end be able to demonstrate his considerable talent, his passion for music, and also his love for teaching to young musicians. This film is suitable for all audiences.
Feature image: with Alan Alda
Length: 80 min.