Today I will write about a movie that I have seen yesterday. It’s a French movie that’s called ‘Le chat du rabbin’ (The rabbi’s cat), based on the comics by Joann Sfar. After having seen the trailer a few years ago, I got interested in the movie. However, I have never been able to find the movie online, up till.. yesterday! What caught my attention is that it is beautifully animated and that it is set in Algiers.
There was only one problem with the movie (or rather, with me), and that is that I’m not that good at speaking French. That’s why I thought it would be the perfect movie to see with my boyfriend, who is originally from Algeria. He speaks French and Arabic, so he could easily translate it for me where necessary.
Before we started on the movie I discovered that there was music composed specially for this movie. It is a lot of fun to listen to! If you like Arab/Oriental inspired music, this is definitely something you should check out! I made a special list of my favourite tracks of the movie, which I will place underneath the article. The music is composed by Olivier Daviaud and performed by Enrico Macias and his musicians and the Amsterdam Klezmer Band (whoop whoop)!
Like I said, the story is set in Algiers in 1920 during the French occupation and follows the story of a rabbi and his cat. They live in a house together with his daughter and parrot. One day the cat eats the parrot and miraculously gains the ability to speak. Because he is witty and arrogant, the rabbi does not allow the cat to stay with his daughter. The cat can’t stand his decision (he is in love with Zlabya) and asks the rabbi to arrange his Bar Mitzvah since the only way to stay with her is by converting to Judaism. The request to organise a Bar Mitzvah get’s rejected because he is a cat. The cat is agitated and thinks he will never be reunited with his mistress. When the rabbi sees that Zlabya is crying all the time, he decides to give the cat back to her.
The story continues with the cat helping the rabbi with his exam to be able to stay rabbi. The cat recites parts of the Torah and the rabbi has to write them down in French (this is part of a new law). While he recites parts of the Torah, the cat is extremely critical about it. He questions everything and challenges the rabbi, which often results in funny and philosophical dialogues. In the story, we also meet an Orthodox Christian from Russia, a Jew from Russia, a Muslim man from Algeria, a Muslim Tuareg (Sahara) tribe and a Jewish tribe in Ethiopia. We all see the differences and similarities between each of the characters. The part that I really like about the movie it is that everyone perceives their religion in a different way, which results in different views within one religion. This is something we all can learn from, especially nowadays when people think they can judge anyone, based on their background and religion.
That was it about the movie, enjoy the music!
Author: Nino Natroshvili
Violinist and student at the Utrecht Conservatory, the Netherlands.