Archive of films Golem: The Spirit of Exile / Golem: L'esprit de l'exil

France / Netherlands / Italy / Germany / United Kingdom
1991, 110 min

Section: The Golem Trilogy by Amos Gitai
Year: 2003

The film is based on the modern version of the Book of Ruth and reflects the destiny of two sophisticated women who have to come to terms with their immigrant status after being forced to leave France. Bernardo Bertolucci also appears in the film.


Golem: The Spirit of Exile transposes the Book of Ruth, fused with passages from other Biblical stories of exile and the legend of the Golem, to modern Paris. A God-like Maharal performs a ritual to make a creature from a formless mass of mud. However, the creature is instructed to protect wanderers, nomads, and exiles of all backgrounds, rather than just Jews like the traditional Golem. These include Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, who have left Bethlehem and come to the Biblical city of Moab, here rendered as Paris. The two sons marry Moabite/Parisian wives, but then they and Elimelech die. One wife returns to her family. But Naomi and Ruth, the daughter-in-law who remains, forge an enduring friendship.
Like Birth of a Golem, Golem: The Spirit of Exile is an associative film about the Golem that draws heavily on historical texts. However, Golem: The Spirit of Exile has a coherent narrative. The film also comments extensively on contemporary events, whereas Birth of a Golem seemingly does not. A brief example will have to suffice here, though the commentary reaches much deeper.
Consider the texts’ inherent quality of being stories about and from exile. For a modern Israeli to valorise such stories, and to plead for the protection of nomads and wanderers without invoking the necessity of establishing a new homeland for them, is in itself an act of provocation. This is because Israeli nationalists often conceive of the establishment of Israel as an antithesis to life in the Diaspora. Israel is seen as a dialectical step forward in Jewish history, which had been marked by exile for millennia. For them, to celebrate the life of nomads and exiles, Jewish or otherwise, is a step backward. These people tend to celebrate Jewish nationalist-religious stories, both as the state flourished in ancient times and since it was re-established in the 20th century. Thus, by featuring Biblical stories of exile, as well as legends like that of the Golem that were developed in the Diaspora, the film valorises a tradition many Israeli nationalists neglect or even disdain. Golem: The Spirit of Exile is therefore a sort of rebuttal of the chauvinism that depicts hardcore, unquestioning Israeli nationalism as the only authentic Judaism. This chauvinism has characterized many of Gitai’s antagonists, of the same ilk as those who motivated his own move to Paris.
Ironically, after finishing this celebration of the exiled in the early 1990s, Amos Gitai himself began pondering a return home. Ultimately, after the 1992 election of Yitzhak Rabin as prime minister, Gitai decided to return to his hometown of Haifa. In the interim, he produced several works, including the final film in the Golem trilogy, which was shot partially in Russia, partially in France, and partially in Israel. 

About the director

AMOS GITAI Filmography  - full-length feature films: Esther / Esther / Esther, 1986
Berlin-Yerushalaim / Berlín-Jeruzalém / Berlin Jerusalem, 1989
Naissance d´un Golem / Zrození golema / Birth of a Golem, 1991                                                      Golem: L´esprit de l´exil / Golem: Duch vyhranství/ Golem: The Spirit of Exile, 1991
Golem: Le jardin pétrifié / Golem: Zkamenělá zahrada / Golem: The Petrified Garden, 1993
Zihron Devarim / Zihron Devarim / Devarim, 1996
Milim / Slova / Milim, 1996
Yom yom / Den po dni / Day After Day, 1998
Kadosh / Kadosh / Kadosh, 1999
Kippur / Kippur / Kippur, 2000
Eden / Eden / Eden, 2001
Kedma / Kedma / Kedma, 2001
11´09"01: September 11 / 11´09"01 / 11´09"01 (segment), 2002
Alila / Alila / Alila, 2003 Filmography - short and documentary films: Medabrin al ecologia / Hovory o ekologii / Talking About Ecology, 1973
Ahare / Po / After, 1974
Charisma / Charisma / Charisma, 1976
Shikun / Veřejný dům / Public House, 1977
Political Myths / Politické mýty / Political Myths, 1977
Wadi Rushima / Wadi Rushima / Wadi Rushima, 1978
Architectura / Architektura / Architecture, 1978
M´Ora´ot Wadi Salib / M´Ora´ot Wadi Salib / Wadi Salib Riots, 1979
Cultural Celebrities / Kulturní celebrity / Cultural Celebrities, 1979
Bikur Carter be´Israel / Carterova návštěva Izraele / Carter´s Visit to Israel, 1979
In Search of Identity / Hledání identity / In Search of Identity, 1980
Bait / Dům / House, 1980
Wadi / Wadi / Wadi, 1980
American Mythologies / Americké mytologie / American Mythologies, 1981
Yoman sadeh / Venkovský deník / Field Diary, 1982
Reagan: Image for Sale / Reagan: Image na prodej / Reagan: Image for Sale, 1984
Bankok Bahrain / Bangkok Bahrajn / Bankok Bahrain, 1984
Ananas / Ananas / Pineapple, 1984
Brand New Day / Úplně nový den / Brand New Day, 1987
Wadi 1991 / Wadi 1991, 1991
Dans la vallée de la Wupper / V údolí řeky Wupper / In the Valley of the Wupper, 1993
Zirat ha´rezach / Vražedná aréna / The Arena of Murder, 1996
War and Peace in Vesoul / Válka a mír ve Vesoulu / War and Peace in Vesoul, 1997
Tapuz / Pomeranč / Orange, 1998
Bait be Jerushalyim / Dům v Jeruzalémě / A House in Jerusalem, 1998


Agav Films
37 Rashi Street, 63265, Tel Aviv
Fax: +972 3 525 5971
E-mail: [email protected]

Facets Multi-Media Inc.
1517 West Fullerton Ave., IL 60614, Chicago
United States of America
Tel: +1 773 281 9075
Fax: +1 773 929 5437
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, DVD

Section: The Golem Trilogy by Amos Gitai
Director: Amos Gitai
Screenplay: Amos Gitai
Dir. of Photography: Henri Alekan
Music: Simon and Markus Stockhausen
Producer: Amos Gitai, Laurent Truchot
Production: Agav Films
Cast: Ophrah Shemesh, Hanna Schygulla, Samuel Fuller, Mireille Perrier, Sotigui Kouyaté, Bernardo Bertolucci
Contact: Agav Films, Facets Multi-Media Inc.


Ray Privett


Amos Gitai

Film Director


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