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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old August 28th, 2005, 03:43 PM   #1
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Judaism and film

Do conservative Jews have any reservations about capturing the likeness of people? I recently asked some parents to let me use their children in a short film, and they declined "for religious reasons". The content of the film is completely clean. Is there an explanation, or were they pulling my leg?
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Old August 28th, 2005, 04:19 PM   #2
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Yes, some conservative Jews do have religious reservations about capturing the likenesses of people. Here is a PDF file from the Jewish Quarterly Review that discusses the issue.
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Old August 28th, 2005, 05:43 PM   #3
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Very interesting.

Many Muslims also feel the same way.

At one time I was planning a video game project in a Muslim country. My backers were forward looking and knew it was a good idea but first they had to get a blessing from higher ups because of the prohibition against showing the human figure. We thought we might have to restrict our concepts to robots, machines, non-human characters. That project never went anywhere for other reasons but it was interesting to come up against that prohibition if only very early in the planning stage.

There was a movie about the life of Muhammad starring Anthony Quinn. I remember it showing Muhammad coming in on a camel. But there was no one on the camel. Just adoring crowds looking at awe at ... the invisible rider.
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Old August 28th, 2005, 06:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emre Safak
I recently asked some parents to let me use their children in a short film, and they declined "for religious reasons".
Emre, I would not look too deeply into that answer for any justification. If parents does not want their children to appear in your film, they are not compelled in any way to give you a reason or an explanation. A simple "no" should have sufficed. If they want to chalk it up to religous reasons, that's their business, but they really don't have to give you any reason at all. Hope this helps,
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Old August 29th, 2005, 08:20 AM   #5
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Haha Keith - that move was called The Message. And actually, the way they shot it, when Muhammad was supposed to be in the scene they shot it first-person from Muhammad's point of view. They also didn't physically show the personas of various key figures for the same reason. It was awkward, of course!

That actually is a separate issue than what Emre brought up. Muslims don't create likenesses of prophets etc. so as not to let people attribute their own prejudices and likes/dislikes to the message. There's no rule against the likeness of regular folks - any such rules are cultural. Which is why what you encountered with that video game scenario was pretty unusual.

But what Chris said is spot on - many people just don't like their loved ones to be shot on film by strangers.
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Old August 29th, 2005, 09:35 AM   #6
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Right, Imran. It must have been specific to the country.

I talked to the Jewish stepfather of my girlfriend last night about this and he says there is nothing he knows of in Judaism that prohibits the taking of photos of Jews. However, on the Sabbath, the act of photography by Jews is forbidden because you are not supposed to be doing anything but observing the Sabbath on that day.
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