Pi

PI: FAITH IN CHAOS. 1998

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Pi is a beautifully/weirdly photographed somewhat experimental horror film about a Jewish dude (Sean Gullette) working out the secret mathematical equation that can reveal God.

PiSince the film was written, directed & acted by Jews it would be falacious to look for antisemitism on any level of its treatment of the kabbalistic cultists who would've so happily killed our hero if given the chance. The Jewish sect being parodied would doubtless be insulted if ever they viewed this film, but I for one completely understand the film's attitude.

The film was also made by New Yorkers & the attitude reflecting on the "sinister Jews" sequences is actually an expression of a widespread prejudice against Lubavitch hassidim, who're in real life often just a bit off kilter & paranoid in their behavior, inducing critical sentiments.

They can be archly sexist using their version of Judaism to justify trouncing on women the way some Muslims pretend the Koran says women should neither be educated nor seen. They are full of themselves in full delusion that their form of faith is better than everyone else's even that of other Jews. Though often closed to the outside world can be extremely annoying in the same manner of a Jehova's Witness when they've buttonholed a Reform Jew or a Conservative Jew or a nonobservant Jew. This is how Lubavitch come off time & time again.

So the scene where our hero is cornered by a nice-seeming but rather radical hassid who was trying to snare our hero into coming to a kabbalistic meeting -- that scene parodied actual encounters with holier-than-thou Lubavitch hassidim.

And though there is much good that might be said of the Lubavitch hassidim, it is undeniable that some of them seem egomaniacal & cultish in their approach to Judaism. The sinister cultic kabbalists in Pi were not identified specifically as Lubavitch hassidim but I recognized both their parodied manner & the mainstream Jewish take "against" them, as an intentional part of that clever script. Some of what was going on in that film was probably not comprehensible except to Jews who've been exposed to holier-than-thou Lubavitchers.

Pi is not quite Eraserhead but it tries & is in its unique way brilliant. And it's a great to see anything that isn't the same old same old. In spite of a few limitations I felt Pi deserved highest marks for originality of its cinematic approach & for using certain ideas from Jewish mysticism that are even weirder than the film conveys, & which ought to be mined more often for fantasy & horror films. Luis Borges's classic short story "The Aleph" uses some of the same ideas.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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