Hester Street is the film adaptation of Yekl, A Tale of the Ghetto, a story Abraham Cahan wrote in 1896 about Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. While remaining generally faithful to Cahan's original story, the film director, Joan Macklin Silver, adds dimension to it. She brings the period (the 1890's, when Jewish immigration was at its height) alive in colorful, richly detailed settings, and establishes a complex social context for the story, taking up where Cahan left off. (p. 142)
In general, Silver's casting seems to be something of a capitulation to American tastes. In the original story, the immigrants really do look different from the rest of the population. But Silver's Mrs....
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