Talk:A Serious Man

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Plot summary[edit]

Much of the plot summary has been copied verbatim from this website: [1]. Maybe if we can't write something original, then we should subscribe to the theory that less is more.Brain Rodeo (talk) 12:47, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Also, the article says there's no reference to when the movie is supposed to be occurring. However, in one scene there's a wall calendar which clearly says it's 1967. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:12, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

I erased the summary as it gave away the entire plot. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:27, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

If you don't want spoilers, try reading about movies at IMDB. Wikipedia policy is that it's assumed that articles are comprehensive about their subjects, we don't delete spoiler information. See WP:Spoiler which says among other things "it is not acceptable to delete information from an article because you think it spoils the plot."--Larrybob (talk) 05:03, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
Let me quote that same policy for you: "When including spoilers, editors should make sure that an encyclopedic purpose is being served." It seems pretty cut and dry to me that if this stuff doesn't actually add anything significant to the reader's understanding of the movie, it should be avoided. The plot summary as it stands is a collection of details with no significance as it pertains to anyone's understanding of the movie or its events. Misogynist (talk) 06:07, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
It is difficult to explain the plot of many Coen Brothers films even if you have just watched one. Even though I haven't seen this movie I got a pretty good idea of the plot except why Arthur has an expensive lawyer bill that causes the protagonist to ultimately choose the immoral path. It seems like a vague re-telling of the book of Job with the exception of the end being reversed. WesUGAdawg (talk) 23:58, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

It isn't clear that it is the immoral path. The doctor's call comes right after he puts down the -, which was clearly after reconsideration. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 04:00, 30 January 2010 (UTC).

All those Gopnicks[edit]

Just saw the Coen Bros on Charlie Rose. WTF, is it just me? How does it happen that producers (or CR himself?) run a good-sized interview where an actor keeps talking about the film's characters of the Gopnick family, and immediately follow it with an interview with Alison Gopnik? I'm pretty sure that it means nothing that belongs in the article, but how does it not get prevented, to keep viewers from getting weirded out, as i did, with "Am i just imagining that the same surname was prominent in both pieces?" Does something have a great theory that'll get our editors' minds off it?
--Jerzyt 04:24, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Time Period[edit]

The bar-mitzva is on parshaht Behar, which is usually read around May. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:25, 7 November 2009 (UTC)

Parashah Behar was read on May 20 in 1967. The junior rabbi's office displays a wall calendar for the month of May, 1967. --Potosino (talk) 15:07, 2 March 2016 (UTC)

Black comedy, drama or both?[edit]

I think this move is innacurately described as just a drama. I took it to be a very black comedy, something the cohns have been known to do in past films. If anything, it's a mix of black comedy and drama. Too many lines and situations are set up for humor --not punchlines, but the comedy of awkward human interaction that the filmmaker have mined on numerous occasions --this was just a tad drier than normal. Let's fix it in the lead. -- (talk) 03:35, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

It's certainly a drama for anyone who watched this. CUSH 22:43, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
It's a comedy drama. Since the Coen Brothers make fun of everything, then it can't be taken seriously. Woody Allen does the same thing. Both of them should make some dramas.bruvensky (talk) 02:42, 5 March 2011 (UTC)


I am personally very happy that Darrenhusted decided to put a notice regarding the plot length versus just reverting edits like he was doing previously. I think that's a better way to let my changes stand while addressing his concern over article length. I just tightened up the article wording and hope others do the same. However, it's important not to shorten this to the point where the description becomes useless, which was the point of concern I had with the very short version that was there previously. Some movies are more subtle than others, and the word count here stands at about 900-1000. I think this is reasonable and comparable to other wikipedia articles. (See Big Lebowski by way of example) (talk) 19:19, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

As this article stands now, the "plot" section does not merely contain the "plot," it contains a fairly detailed sequential description of the entire film. That's not really a "plot" description at all. A plot synapsis should not be a detailed play-by-play transcription of every event in the film. That's not "plot." However, I do see the dilemma in attempting to describe the "plot" of a film such as this! Perhaps this work of cinematic art is challenging our traditional paradigms. (talk) 07:53, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Plot Length and call for a Writing section[edit]

The plot length currently is 1,023 words. I have not seen a specific word limit as a wikipedia guideline, but rather guidelines which emphasize providing the correct level of detail to understand the film, without going into a scene-by-scene retelling and generally trying to pare things down to the important elements. I believe the current description is adequate, and that there's even some elements that are being underrepresented (the daughter, the dispute with the next door neighbor, the seductive other neighbor who smokes grass with Larry). They may be minor details, and best omitted, but one must believe that these subplots ladder up into the overall plot structure of the movie. If there's any way to continue to streamline the detail without killing the usefulness of the article, please take a stab at it.

With regard to the prologue, it seems encyclopedic enough that nearly every reviewer has a tough time seeing the connection to the remainder of the film. I believe that there is an overall theme in the movie about the need for Larry to be more assertive in the face of problems. It also darkly hints at a possible historical curse. And thirdly, like Schroedinger's cat (another motif in the film) it's a parable about certainty versus uncertainty, and how even the virtue of certainty can lead to disasterous and inhumane outcomes (such as her stabbing an old man with an icepick). I feel it belongs in the plot, even though it makes the article slightly longer. However, I also feel that this article definitely needs a Writing section, that tackles some of the very elaborate subtexts that run within this film, especially a film with so many hidden references to Jewish philosophy. Does anybody feel brave enough to take this on? (talk) 00:02, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

There's a Plot summary manual of style (MOS) guideline somewhere suggesting 400-700 words, some editors aim for even less than that. It's rare to find an editor who can streamline the summary without losing a lot of the nuance but various sections such as production/writing/themes could allow the details be explored allowing for a slimmer plot section. Reviewers will sometimes touch on the details and the underlying themes so you might bring that up in the reception section or just use them as references to reinforce any points you make. Doesn't have to be perfect to begin with, take a shot at it yourself and others will help improve and move it forward. -- Horkana (talk) 16:09, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
I'd be grateful to see a link to this as I have looked for it myself fruitlessly, I have seen the language about "make it as short as necessary but don't oversimplify etc.)" but no reference to any specific numbers. But before everybody gets all doctrinaire about the plot length, can I ask *why* anybody would reason that 400-700 words is a good enough treatment for any movie, especially if it's easy to acknowledge that only a rare few can write a decent plot summary within this bracket?
I totally understand the nuisance of overlong, filibustery articles, and those need discipline. But if we're talking the difference 400 or 700 or 1000 words, I dunno. I don't see many people following this rule for say.. The Godfather, or Schindlers List. Or even The Big Lebowski. Does this so-called guideline even exist anymore? Or did it go the way of other bad guidelines that were easily misinterpreted as canon?
Just being an advocate for sensible writing guidelines over here. (talk) 20:37, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
It's here. And it's perfectly sensible. Geoff B (talk) 20:46, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

Remove Notice?[edit]

The plot is now at a reasonable 747 words, which I think fits not just the most narrow interpretation of the MOC but the objective of the guidelines overall. Time to remove the plot length notice? Diegoboten (talk) 19:48, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

The plot summary is still too wordy, and honestly rather badly written. It can be summarize more tightly with some good copyediting. That said, the tag probably can be removed so long as someone is going to actively address its need for some serious grammar fixing. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 20:28, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I've gone through and done a very rough CE and tightened up the prose. I also removed the prologue bit as it doesn't seem to have any noticeable impact on the story. With that, the plot is now at 498 words and I've removed the tag. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 20:56, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for the edits, some of the rewriting is pretty tight. I do remain very concerned about the removal of the prologue. It's part of the movie, and therefore I believe, part of the plot. This speaks to my more abstract concerned about the MOC policy which I think is forcing good and well-intentioned people to intentionally write low quality articles instead of higher quality ones. Diegoboten (talk) 21:28, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Not really. Just because it is in the movie doesn't mean it actually warrants articles. And sorry, but no good editor writes low quality articles over high quality articles "because" of the guideline. The guideline helps produce high quality articles, despite what you think. Trust me, a real copy editor would have cut far more. The one thing I do find interesting is that you are arguing for the prologue, yet don't note that Sy's death is never mentioned, despite it apparently happening in the film? This would seem, to me, far more important to note. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 21:33, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Oh believe me, I was miffed about that getting cut, but there's so much else that has been axed as well. The next door neighbors (both) for instance. Arthur's problems with the police. Larry trying marijuana. The property dispute lawyer dying in front of Larry. (Though that was a pretty cheap deus ex machina). Have to pick some battles here. However I think it would be clear to anybody who actually saw this film that the plot description now pretty much says nothing of importance. Diegoboten (talk) 00:05, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
The guidelines pretty much ensure only a terse plot summary can be written and it is very difficult if not impossible to provide the kind of more inclusive "readers digest" or cliff notes, we would both seem to prefer. Certainly you'd be hard pressed to fake like you've seen the film based on most of the plot summaries. There may be room to fit in other information in other sections but it is a struggle to do so. It might be easier later when the DVD is released and you can reference the commentaries but for now we have to trawl through reviews to try and get their very subjective interpretations as references. -- Horkana (talk) 01:50, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

I'm happy to see long more detailed plot summaries but to keep within the guidelines and still keep more important information the prologue is the best thing to cut. More importantly the Coen brothers have said it does not relate to the main story, so it is not essential to the plot. I reckon it deserves a mention somewhere so I've put it under writing instead. -- Horkana (talk) 23:12, 2 December 2009 (UTC)


The following links were removed from the article per WP:EL (which is not ref storage). If any are appropriate for references, incorporate as time permits:

-- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 20:31, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Cast section[edit]

Per WP:MOSFILM and the general consensus among film articles, this section was removed as the major cast of the film is already noted in the plot, and the only non-list element, claiming auditions were held at some point is not cited. As such, the cast list section is unnecessary and only clutters the article. If the last bit can be sourced, it should be readded to the plot section. As it has been restored first under a seeming misunderstanding of my edit summary (which I tried to clarify) and now under the extremely inappropriate claim that it was removed as vandalism, starting discussion per WP:BRD. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 21:49, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

The guidelines could be interpreted that way, it is not wrong but it is a very minimalist approach. Alternatively one could take the approach that Wikipedia is a work in progress and try to improve it is small ways rather than deleting the whole section. The cast list could be shortened to focus on the main cast I suppose, perhaps adding more cast later if good information on them becomes available. There may also be some details moved here to help make keep the Plot section short yet clear.
There are requests for citation, and User:AnmaFinotera did say if the section had citations it could be moved (to Casting presumably). Editors are extremely unlikely to go back through the article history and see deleted sections, and those citations are unlikely to be added without a bit more time. Luckily Focus Features have provided a nine page article full of production details including casting information which should be enough to put together a pretty decent section. The production notes aren't an ideal citation for what is written there but it does talk about Minneapolis, the Coen Brothers decisions and the casting director, substantially cover all the same things the editor who added those comments was trying to achieve.
There's loads there. There's a lot of work that could be done to improve this article. AnmaFinotera did make a good start on cleaning up the plot. Other parts of the article may need to get a little bit messier before they too can be cleaned up and cut down to a slimmer size. This has been a lot of time I'd have preferred to spend on editing the article. I'm assuming editors have added content in good faith and other have requested citations in good faith so in good faith we shouldn't delete things until a fair amount of time has been given to try and expand cleanup and provide citations for various parts of the article. -- Horkana (talk) 22:40, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I meant, very specifically, the last bit about the auditions, not the list itself. There was not citations at all in the section I removed. Production information is good, when well written and well sourced. Yes, I did clean up quite a bit of the article. I prefer to clean out the stuff that is very unlikely to remain first before doing expansions. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 23:25, 2 December 2009 (UTC)


I note that amongst the credits was the notice "no jews were harmed in the making of this film." Does this belong in the article?--Jrm2007 (talk) 23:25, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

Um, no. Wikipedia is not for dispersing random bits of trivia. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 23:29, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
Thing is though by describing it yourself as WP:TRIVIA you've answered your own question. If you read the guidelines though Trivia is often just good information poorly expressed or categorized. Probably still best not to mention such a small detail but in theory you might mention it as an aspect of the Coen Brothers attention to detail in their films, or relate it to some aspect of their writing. -- Horkana (talk) 01:17, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
But only if such was noted in reliable sources... :) -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 01:22, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
well, anyone watching the credits can see this--Jrm2007 (talk) 03:13, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
Anyone watching the credits can see what it says, not that it is an aspect of their "attention to detail" or their writing or anything else. Only that its there, which alone is extremely trivial and common. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 03:31, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, maybe this belongs more on an IMDB msg board instead of here inasmuch as it is just one among many details of the flick--Jrm2007 (talk) 04:48, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

Here's a bit of trivia for you. I noticed that Larry made a mistake in the derivation he was doing on the huge blackboard (misplacing an exponent of 2), but when the Sy's ghost was speaking to him, the equation on the blackboard was correct. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jive Dadson (talkcontribs) 03:04, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

Plot vs analysis[edit]

I can see there's been quite a bit of discussion on this page of the 'plot' section.

However, it seems to me that the section currently of that name starts with a traditional synopsys of the plot, and then at 'One question posed...' turns into an analysis of what the film is about.

Very interesting, but shouldn't that be in a separate section? I would add a section break but I'm not sure traditionally what such as section should be called --Mortice (talk) 00:27, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Ah, never mind, seems the bit I was questioning has been removed (rather than being put into a different section - I guess analysis isn't very encyclopaedic) --Mortice (talk) 22:16, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Consistent accessdates[edit]

The date parameter of citations were shown using words as the guidelines prefer/require. There is no requirement to show the accessdate using words. The accessdates were CONSISTENTLY formatted using the ISO format (eg 2009-12-31), until an edit by user AnmaFinotera which changed the accessdates to words claiming this made them more consistent. There is no requirement to do this for accessdates. The dates policy is a bit half assed and unhelpfully indecisive, but if we can have accessdate in ISO format, then editors should not be mislead into thinking accessdates need to be written out as words. At least not yet as the rules stand.

There have been too many intermediate edits, and Wikipedia would not allow me to revert this change and I don't have time right now to do it manually. If an editor wants to change the accessdates back to ISO format it would be justifiable to do so for a short time (say a week or two) after which the date format that then has settled and has some precedent would be what were stuck with. -- Horkana (talk) 18:58, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Actually, the dates were not consistent. While I was doing other clean up, I saw some done as words, some done as ISO. I converted all to words as that is the easier conversion to do. If you have some particular reason for keeping them ISO, please state so. Changing them back just to do it seems pointless to me. Written out is more preferred as ISO is clearly falling out of favor except where absolutely needed for space issues in tables (and even then, often being changed to full then finding better ways to tighten tables). Almost all of the date templates also produce fulls not ISOs. In several FA/FLs, it was noted that ISO accessdates should match the date formatting of the rest of the article. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 21:03, 19 December 2009 (UTC)
Wikipedia dates are horrifically flawed. The policy to unlink dates breaks the previous functionality that would display wikilinked ISO format dates by your preferred locale. It is unfortunate people somehow decided this lack of functionality was somehow the preferred solution.
The beauty of the ISO format being easily machine interpretable is what make it so easy to automatically convert them out of that format. The intervening edits have just made the change too hard to revert now.
If you say all the accessdates were not ISO format I can believe that but most of them were, keeping them that way would have respected the consensus of the editors who wrote them that way. There is no policy to do it one way over the other, but the guidelines do say keep to what is already there. You say yourself the accessdates should match the format of the rest of the article. (As I said before the cite "date" says to use words, but claims there is no requirement to use them for the accessdate. It seems like you are saying you are formatting cite date and accessdate to be the same then the guidelines allowing accessdate to be in ISO format are so weak as to be useless.)
I feel it is necessary to similarly point out the indentation and line breaks removed from the article were put their intentionally. For me, an editor using the standard basic edit box indentation makes reading and checking to see if references in the source have mistakes or are missing useful parameters, a little bit less hassle. It's hard to understand why so many editors are so eager to strip away helpful indentation. Lots of line breaks make diffs clearer and vandalism easier to spot. It's a bit late now and the article has moved on but please consider next time, all of what you change has probably been put their intentionally and in good faith, even the minor stuff like accessdate formats and the indention. Just as having content removed is discouraging it is also discouraging to have other even minor work like that removed. Beyond trying to keep what remains of the actual content I've added, I've lost interest in expanding the article further I'll leave the article to you. -- Horkana (talk) 21:43, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

accepts the bribe from Clive's father[edit]

Is it 100% clear that the bribe came form the student or his father? I thought that was left a 'mystery'. Perhaps Sy Ableman? One theme in the movie is many things are not 100% clear. I saw it once and did not pay close attention but I thought the money (and anonymous letters) might have come from Ableman which is why he felt he could take it. Or maybe not. But it is not 100% clear to me. Geo8rge (talk) 18:13, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

On a related note, it is not 100% clear to me that he actually accepted the bribe. We never see him take out the money, do we? I personally think that he did decide to take the bribe, and that the immediate phone call from the doctor was karmic retribution. But someone I spoke to about the film interpreted it as him simply deciding to do something nice for the Korean student - and that the call from the doctor was yet another "what message could Hashem possibly be trying to send me" moment. After all, throughout the film we saw him talking about how he's tried to be a good person and expressing his confusion over what he's done to deserve such misery. Unless the Coen brothers have stated somewhere that he did, in fact, accept the bribe, I think the page should just say that he changed the grade. Niremetal (talk) 02:41, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

Opening Sequence[edit]

I suggest the following as a first draft of a section about the opening sequence. It would seem if they devoted so much time to it in the movie, it should be mentioned in the article. I do not see that a WP is the place to discuss it's relation to the rest of the movie, so if it has anything to do with the plot is irrelevant.

A Jewish peasant returns home. He tells his wife he met Reb Groshkover on the way home. His wife informs him that Reb Groshkover died, and that she attended his funeral. The wife claims that the husband did not meet Reb Groshkover, but a Dybbuk in the form of Reb Groshkover. The husband, who claims to be rational, says Dybbuks do not exist. At that point there is a knock on the door. Someone claiming to be Reb Groshkover enters. The wife points out that facial hair removed to prepare the corpse of Reb Groshkover is missing from their visitor. She plunges a knife into the chest or the visitor who staggers out. Whether or not a Dybbuk or Reb Groshkover are encountered is not resolved and in the movie credits a question mark is placed after the word Dybbuk. At this point the screen goes black and the movie restarts.

I do not see that a WP is the place to discuss it's relation to the rest of the movie if any, so if it has anything to do with the plot of the movie is irrelevant. Geo8rge (talk) 20:42, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

I don't know how relevant it is (I haven't seen the movie), but the plot section is intended to be short and to the point so readers can get an understanding of what the plot of the film is. I don't have a problem with it being included (barring me seeing the film myself and agreeing with the others) but it seems that other editors have decided it unnecessary. BOVINEBOY2008 :) 21:35, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
I deem a good idea to include a paragraph about the opening sequence. It either is a part of the plot as a whole - so it is relevant to the plot summary - or is an independent episode (included for reasons we are not investigating) and in this case it deserves to be summarised in its own right. In any case, I do not see why it should be omitted. Goochelaar (talk) 23:12, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
There are guidelines suggesting the plot section needs to be kept short, I'd prefer more detail personally. It is definitely not relevant to the plot. I mentioned the opening sequence briefly in what used to be the Writing section, now just a line or two of the Production section. You could try expanding on that and give more context for readers who have not seen the film and do not already know the intro but it might be difficult to convince editors who want to keep the article shorter. -- Horkana (talk) 04:23, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
Horkana, why do you say "it is definitely not relevant to the plot"? Is it your opinion or have you some source for it? As to "other editors", I admit I have not followed the whole of the several debates in this talk page, but the four editors contributing to this particular section all seem more or less to agree to a mention of the opening sequence (one drafted a section, one said "I don't have a problem with it being included", you seem to "prefer more detail" and I agree). Isn't this a sort of consensus? I am ready to hear other editors' motivations to the contrary, of course. Goochelaar (talk) 10:16, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it is sourced. See the Production section, it was in a separate writing section which was removed.
Ethan explains, ““We thought a little self-contained story would be an appropriate introduction for this movie. Since we didn’t know any suitable Yiddish folk tales, we made one up.”
Joel adds, “It doesn’t have any relationship to what follows, but it helped us get started thinking about the movie.”}}
The film makers provided very detailed production notes, unfortunately the way they've broken it up into pages makes linking a bit of a pain. I referenced the article several times and included source comments specifying which page specifically I was referencing. [2] -- Horkana (talk) 14:54, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
I have included a very brief summary of the opening scene. I think it is certainly important to include in a summary of the film's plot, and, if critics have been commenting on it, probably elsewhere as well. The rest of the plot section could probably use a rewrite, it probably doesn't need to be as long as it is.--Cúchullain t/c 19:22, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
So what if it has no relation to the rest of the movie. It is in the movie so it should be mentioned in an article about the movie. It's not a little thing, it ran for a significant amount of time. Geo8rge (talk) 02:07, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
By all means mention it, I encourage you, but the plot summary has already been cut down to a very short length. There are some editors who will insist on keeping it short and that will make it difficult to mention all the details in this film. So I would encourage you to mention it but try to make sure other important information does not get cut because some editor thinks a word count is more important than writing a good article. -- Horkana (talk) 05:43, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

I am not sure that the movie happened in 1967, since Santana album “Abraxas” that mention in it was release in 1970. Bino[edit]

I am not sure that the movie happened in 1967, since Santana album “Abraxas” that mention in it was release in 1970. Bino —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:18, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

Cosmo's Factory - 1970[edit]

The other recird that mention in the movie "Cosmo's Factory" also was released in 1970. Bino —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:44, 13 January 2010 (UTC)


Just wondering, why does the infobox say the movie is in Hebrew and english when the article itself states that they are speaking Yiddish? Cos Eile 22:05 02 February 2010

The unrelated-to-the-movie prologue is in Yiddish, but not a word of Yiddish is spoken in the rest of the movie; The rest of the movie contains some of Hebrew - in Hebrew class, engraved on teeth, in prayer. You don't need to understand Hebrew to watch the film, but it's definitely correct, understandable, Hebrew. (talk) 06:12, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

"Somebody to Love"[edit]

From the article: '...where the rabbi quotes a line from "Somebody to Love"...' Actually, the rabbi interestingly misquotes a line from "Somebody to Love", turning "And all the joy within you dies" into "And all the hope within you dies". - Jmabel | Talk 05:21, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

This actually seems very relevant, as the article I read just now says that he quotes it almost exactly, I could not have imagined this misquote. It could be the rabbi interpreted it as "hope" because he himself feels hopeless. It's a shame the article doesn't take the few extra words for clearing up how he misquoted it, considering how much effort the director put into the build up of the rabbi and the music device, all just for that one line. (talk) 10:22, 25 July 2011 (UTC)
It is clearly relevant and interesting, but the plot summary is not the place to take it up. Incidentally, the material in quotes above does not accurately quote the article, which in fact says that the rabbi quotes the song "almost verbatim." That is literally accurate so it can't be far from the mark. Also, I'm not at all convinced that the rabbi's misquote is intentionally inaccurate. People make mistakes and we don't know if it's the rabbi, the filmmakers, or the original songwriters. --Ring Cinema (talk) 05:02, 28 July 2011 (UTC)


At one point Larry quickly writes:

on the blackboard. He turns to the class and utters a quick sentence or two, and then we see the blackboard behind him, and it says

which is what must have been intended. Michael Hardy (talk) 14:51, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

But . . . they're identical. Minaker (talk) 22:02, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

No, they aren't the same at all. But your reaction probably explains how the error crept in. See standard deviation and variance. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:56, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia articles do not normally include continuity errors, and you would need a source showing not only that this happens but also that it was particularly notable before it could be included in the article. Glad you pointed it out though, just cant find an excuse to include it. -- Horkana (talk) 00:29, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

I can understand an inattentive person thinking they're identical when no one has mentioned that there's a difference between them, but after I write what I did above, how can someone looking at the with a view to what the difference is write that they're identical? Michael Hardy (talk) 11:26, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Hey, uh, that was intended as a joke, just so you know. The difference between the two equations is obvious. I guess Wikipedia isn't the place for subtle humor, so I guess that's my fault. I'm not sure it justifies not one but THREE comments, in two different Wikipedia locations. The comments about me being inattentive (twice) and a failure at math do border on personal attack and seem a bit petty, and certainly fail to add anything constructive to the discussion. Then again, my joke wasn't constructive (or funny) either, so hopefully we both learned a lesson on how to behave better on Wikipedia. I mean, I still think the whole thing is funny, but I will try to refrain from such pointless joking in the future. Minaker (talk) 02:20, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

With no more context than you gave, I doubt anyone would have been able to suspect that that was a joke. That said, I don't find any personal attacks here. Michael Hardy (talk) 04:52, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

another plot discussion[edit]

I see that there is much concern that the plot description is overly detailed and too long. However, please remember that Wikipedia editing policy contains the following, essential quote: "Be helpful: explain your changes." This includes removal of information that someone else has provided, even if it is for the sake of necessary trimming; the plot's possible overlength seems to stem from legitimate, well-intentioned disagreements on which aspects of the plot are essential to an understanding of the film, rather than any one overzealous editor.

If I may use one of my own edits as an example (in other words, if I can whine for just a moment) . . . I don't see how the addition of four words that clarify the opening scene as a prologue significantly adds to the length of the piece. I do see how the small change adds to the meaning of the scene. If you disagree, that's fine -- but please explain before removing the info, per Wikipedia policy. Minaker (talk) 22:20, 3 March 2010 (UTC)


The article lists the existence of Red Owl as an anachronism. However, Red Owl was in business at least from the early 1950's, and continued though the 1980's. The only Wikipedia article about Red Owl concentrates only on the two remaining stores, but a web search will find many old photos. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:18, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

The article does not now mention Red Owl. The story takes place in 1967. Red Owl was ubiquitous at that time. Michael Hardy (talk) 04:55, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

The boy is high during the Bar Mitzvah[edit]

On the summary it is said that on the Bar Mitzvah "the boy struggles through the ceremony, but overcomes his nerves". Actually he's not nervous, he's high, as it is hinted previously in a scene in a bathroom. And the Coens say it explicitly in the interview which comes with the DVD. I won't change it since my English is far from perfect, but it should be changed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nazroon (talkcontribs) 03:33, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

Spiritual Crisis[edit]

It seems that calling Larry's questioning a spiritual crisis is interpretation. Or is it simply a summary of the events in the movie? Anyone else have a thought on that? --Ring Cinema (talk) 17:58, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

"Today" by Jefferson Airplane[edit]

"Today" is also used in the film, rather than randomly appearing in the OST as implied by the article before my edit just now. It appears in the scene when Larry visits his neighbour and smokes pot.

Could someone confirm if "Comin' Back To Me" is included in the film or not? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dpcohen1968 (talkcontribs) 23:31, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Prima facie, a song on the film's soundtrack album was in the film. --Ring Cinema (talk) 00:38, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

Job material and NPR[edit]

Ring Cinema inserted the following phrase in the Reception section: "Although the Coens are coy about an explicit confirmation," Putting aside the phrasing itself, which is hardly encyclopedic, I reverted the change because the source says nothing about it at all. And I said so in the edit summary, including asking whether RC intended to cite to another source. RC reverted with the following edit summary: "they're asked directly about sourcing and don't name Job". I have no idea what RC is talking about based on the source. Now maybe RC is referring to the 47-minute interview link on the website, which I haven't listened to. If that's true, then RC needs to source to that, not to the article. And even then, RC should probably give the reader a clue as to where in the interview this takes place (47 minutes is long). I guess I'll wait for an explanation as to what is going on. Others, of course, are welcome to comment.--Bbb23 (talk) 02:11, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

You didn't listen to the interview and you're reverting, Bbb, without checking with me first? That's not very collegial, to say the least. I used the available form so I assume the citation is good enough if not perfect. It's important to include the Coens' take on the sourcing and I took the first step on that. --Ring Cinema (talk) 03:35, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
I should mention that the interview turns to A Serious Man in the second half. --Ring Cinema (talk) 15:03, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
Okay, so the source is the interview, not the article. Fortunately, I didn't have to listen to the interview because there's a link to the transcript of the interview here. Please identify what the Coens said in the interview that supports the phrase you added. And, excuse the pun, but I'm not being coy - I don't see it.--Bbb23 (talk) 00:56, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
It's not complicated. They are given the opportunity to confirm the suspicion that it's based on Job but don't. They mention their rabbi as the "headwaters." Now, if it wasn't Job, they're not necessarily going to say it wasn't, and if it was, they'd be expected to mention it when asked directly. It seems the generous interpretation for the Job theory is that they're coy on the point. I'm sure others will say this is as close to a denial as we can get, therefore it's a denial. And allusions to Job do not establish provenance, so that's specious as well. --Ring Cinema (talk) 16:08, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
Have you identified anything in the transcript, you know, like a quoted passage?--Bbb23 (talk) 01:56, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
You said you saw the transcript, so you are aware that my summary is accurate. If you know of any contrary evidence, feel free to share it. Thanks. --Ring Cinema (talk) 05:43, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I give up. I've opened a discussion on EAR.--Bbb23 (talk) 01:09, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

You give up what? You haven't even gotten as far as stating your objection. Is it formal or substantive? I asked if you had any contrary evidence and you offered nothing. Is there something that contradicts my summary? If not, I can't say anything but that it's accurate. --Ring Cinema (talk) 02:50, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

No one seems interested, but just in case anyone is actually watching, the discussion on EAR is still ongoing here. You're certainly welcome to contribute there or here.--Bbb23 (talk) 02:15, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

Which tornado outbreak?[edit]

The article mentions that the tornado at the end of the film was inspired by the 1967 Southern Minnesota tornado outbreak. I think this may be a common misconception. While that event was certainly infamous, it happened in southern MN, many miles from the Minneapolis metro area. It seems far more likely that it was based on the 1965 Twin Cities tornado outbreak when, during one late afternoon and evening, 6 tornadoes hit the Twin City area directly. If you grew up in Minneapolis in the 60's, like I and the Coens did, that's the event you remember. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 21:06, 13 August 2011 (UTC).

I don't think the precise geographic location of the tornadoes is the point. What matters in terms of inspiration is what the Coens think their memories refer to. If they think they remember the 67 tornadoes then that is the inspiration. Two years later, the evolution of televised weather coverage might have made that the more vivid event. --Ring Cinema (talk) 22:50, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Footnote needed for this assertion. Is there a source of the Coens saying this? The tornadoes of 1965, while not in the same year as the setting of the film were experienced by the Coen brothers. The tornadoes of 1967 were not.Dktrfz (talk) 02:23, 29 September 2012 (UTC)

What is the basis of your assertion that they did not experience the 67 tornadoes? I believe you are mistaken. --Ring Cinema (talk) 03:41, 29 September 2012 (UTC)

They lived nowhere near the 67 tornadoes and were children at the time, with little chance of being in that part of the state while attending school. The tornado scene in the film matches the 65 event in location precisely. What is the basis of your assertion that they did experience the 67 tornadoes? Dktrfz (talk) 02:45, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

dark comedy / black comedy[edit],28804,1920701_1920683_1920667,00.html

Well, about half of these are not reliable for determining genre. But, the larger point is, why not just add one to the article? You know, rather than just dumping a list on the talk page with no comment. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 15:00, 11 August 2012 (UTC)
I hope I didn't offend you. I didn't want to second guess you because your summary seemed pretty definite and I'm not completely sure of the limits of the genre. By which I mean, I have my own doubts about calling it black comedy. Coen films seem intentionally to bend genre, right? So I thought it might be worth discussing. But here's some evidence that others might cite as at least a starting place. Is mordant humor the only criterion? --Ring Cinema (talk) 17:24, 11 August 2012 (UTC)
No, I was not offended, just confused by the lack of a comment. As to your larger point, I agree. The Coen bros. regularly blend genres, so that many of their films are hard to classify. Mordant humor, as you phrased it, is a frequent element in their films, but that wouldn't necessarily make them black comedies. For the last couple days, I have been combing through the category, removing films that are not referenced, which is a big problem. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 18:52, 11 August 2012 (UTC)
Genres lack standards, in general. It's not a good trend. May I suggest asking for a citation first? Maybe that's too much bother. --Ring Cinema (talk) 01:49, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

black comedy[edit]

Quite a few sources call it a black or dark comedy. Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, Amazon, Daily Mail, Time, etc. Who doesn't say it's a black comedy? --Ring Cinema (talk) 23:41, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

All I said is that the source provided in the lede was inadequate. An actual review would be better. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 23:57, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
Sure, but that doesn't seem a reason to cut the truth. Every last fact is not sourced. Maybe put the bracket fact bracket on it and another ref will appear. --Ring Cinema (talk) 00:06, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
I have to admit that I forgot that you and I already discussed this, in the section right above. But, that was three weeks ago! I can't be expected to remember things from that long ago, can I? ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 01:22, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
I think you have made the point that calling something a black comedy is not something you take lightly. --Ring Cinema (talk) 01:24, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Recurrent nightmares[edit]

I think the recurrent dreams/ nightmares, which are introduced as if they are real life, are a significant device in the film. The opening Yiddish folklore vignette also has a dreamlike quality. Do any critics also think this theme is notable? Martinevans123 (talk) 12:20, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Offhand, I can think of just two such sequences in the film: Arthur's fatal departure on the lake and the Gopnik/Samsky post-pot coitus. (The prologue may be dreamlike, but it is not presented as a dream.) Do two instances constitute a significant thematic device? Would any notable critic think so? Barte (talk) 13:49, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
That huge blackboard, with Larry's proof of the Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle, was real? And Sy sat there questioning him, from beyond the grave? Martinevans123 (talk) 13:59, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
I missed that one--thank you. Perhaps three is a trend. Barte (talk) 15:03, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
Screenwriter Todd Alcott did an 11 part analysis of the film in 2010 (Part 11 here), well worth reading and touches on the dream sequences. Think it's more significant as a recurring motif in the Coen's films, though that's a different kettle of fish.yorkshiresky (talk) 20:00, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
Many thanks, at least he mentions one of the dreams! As a notable writer, maybe that Alcott series should be mentioned somewhere in the article? Martinevans123 (talk) 20:43, 19 September 2016 (UTC) p.s. a great film, I think, even if it is a bit like "Woody Allen Does American Beauty"?

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