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Soundtracking- Best Original Song

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Nov 20 2019

Soundtracking: Yentl

byChris Feil

Some might reduce it to simple star vehicle, butYentldoes something quite uncommon within the musical genre: through song, it places us in the mind and isolation of exclusively one character.All of the songs belong to Barbra Streisand’s protagonist Yentl, locked in the chamber of her mind, until it triumphantly breaks out in her reality.It might seem criminal to have the likes of her costar Mandy Patinkin going songless despite being at hisEvitaandSunday in the Park with George-era peak, and maybe more condescending viewers would chalk this up to ego on the part of Streisand.But the effect gives us something that quietly defies musical convention, turning song into metaphor and providing richer payoff to the character arc.It’s only a musical inside the head of our heroine, a way of reflecting the strictures that limit her voice.

The film plays tells us that this is precisely what it’s doing in the very first number, “Where Is It Written?” First, we see Yentl alone and Streisand sings of the religious, gendered confines that prevent her from studying the Talmud outside of her home.But when she enters her father’s quarters, and more importantly enters her Jewish community’s religious center, the song becomes musical voiceover.Her desire for religious study is more than a deep longing, it’s a secret to be hidden.

The internal music ofYentlalso serves its own religious function.Because of the story’s context, the interiority of Yentl’s singing naturally lends all of her musical self-reflections to also play as prayer.Composers Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman, and Marilyn Bergman had intended the score to reflect the call-backs within the Talmud, and this flow between songs earned them an Oscar for their religious insight.ButYentl’s songs don’t quite become as much of a literal prayer as much as in the film’s most iconic song “Papa Can You Hear Me?”, a summoning of strength from her two deepest connections.

Sexuality is also incredibly important to Yentl’s personal journey, and the film draws as much conclusions about the oppressions of male culture as it does about our spectrum of sexuality.Yentl doesn’t simply experience spiritual freedom but also a sexual awakening as she lusts over her friend, Mandy Patinkin’s Avigdor.And the film is aware that sexuality is as much about the body as the soul.“The Way He Makes Me Feel” essentially plays out as a masturbation song, a musical form of a most private act.With Patinkin a stone cold fox in the film, you can understand Yentl’s torment.

The film pulls all of Yentl’s journey, and pieces of the melodies of the previous songs, into a triumphant finale of self-expression and self-assuredness in “Piece of Sky”.But what is most satisfying is that Yentl is singing out in the open.Even if this is fantasy (no one seems to notice this woman openly singing on this boat), the suggestion of the sequence is freedom.She sings of only being able to see just a piece of sky, a limited world of opportunity, but now her view is nothing but.Yentl is determined, but before anything, she is liberated.

All Soundtracking installments can be foundhere!

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Reader Comments (17)

God bless this film!How on earth did "The Way He Makes Me Feel" not take Original Song.

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterAndrew Carden

The album was beautiful, with all the lyrics and full of stills

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterPeggy Sue

This movie is awesome.And it was a great hit.Today, inexplicably half forgotten.Barbra Streisand at her height as a movie star and artist.But please - hide this wonder from today's audiences, don't let them see it.They won't understand anything.They understand everything literally, to the letter, and can't not making a social/political reading of what they see.And then complain.They just can't watch a movie and have fun, simply like it or not like it.

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterFaye Dunaway


November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterJoan Castleman

Patinkin might have gone songless but at least he went trouserless.

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed Commentermarkgordonuk

Great article and amazing film!And I've always loved Streisand's record of the soundtrack

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterStefano

Piece of Sky is one of the best vocal performances in musical history and that's final.

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterArlo

Featuring the most cinematically immaculate held note in all of film musical history.

“A Piece of Sky” is so iconic, even Streisand was only ever able to sustain that 20+ sec.note once, and it’s in the film.

Pure bliss.

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterManny

She was too old to play Yentl.

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed Commenterthevoid99

Great film, great score, great star

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterJaragon

Great film, great score, great star

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterJaragon

Awesome singer.Actress?Not so much.She's constantly playing variations of her own persona, at least in my opinion.But hell yeah the last note of A Piece of Sky was brilliant!

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterPete

I didn't write the "No streaming for the snowflakes we say!" message.

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterJoan Castleman

Or did I...

November 20, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterJoan Castleman

"..no one seems to notice this woman openly singing on this boat.."

watch it again;once she gets upstairs the extras seem to be noticing both her and the camera

November 21, 2019 | 注销ed Commenterpar

You didn't and I wish Nathaniel would do something about it.

November 21, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterJoan Castleman

I mean an unfunny and instantly dated gimmick account by /3rtful is not much of a cause to cry over.Maybe forgoing lame gimmick accounts, i.e.actor/character names, is the solution.Be like Madonna, bebrand, evolve, live your truth.I’ll think of you as Joanie, a great name with zero baggage that isn’t taken.

November 21, 2019 | 注销ed CommenterCheryl

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