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I WILL NOT LET YOU GO UNLESS YOU TEACH ME THE TANGO: SALLY POTTER'S THE TANGO LESSON

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image of Biblical Interpretation

This paper explores Sally Potter's film The Tango Lesson and the story of Jacob's fight with the angel that features in it. The Tango Lesson is not only about the tango and the relationship between the characters Sally and Pablo but also about their search for what it means to feel like a Jew. On this search, Sally and Pablo embody in a tango pose Jacob's fight with the angel as painted by Eugène Delacroix. This pose and the biblical story behind it act as a key to understanding the relationship between Sally and Pablo. In this paper, I show how Sally resembles Jacob and Pablo the angel of both the biblical story and Delacroix's painting. But I also argue that a role reversal takes place in Potter's film; that Pablo can be Jacob and Sally his angel. The experiences of being blessed and hurt as well as the importance of being remembered shape not only Sally's but also Pablo's life. To feel Jewish, I conclude, does not mean to be Jewish through birth or through belonging to a congregation but to search for a sense of self through a relationship. On this search, the ability to play different roles in different relational contexts is essential.

10.1163/15685150360495598
/content/journals/10.1163/15685150360495598
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/content/journals/10.1163/15685150360495598
2003-01-01
2016-12-10

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