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Barbra Streisand: YENTL DVD News

March 20, 2009

Streisand's Amazon Exclusive: Armchair Commentary

An exclusive audio podcast in which Barbra Streisand is interviewed over the phone has been posted on Amazon's YENTL page. Listen to it here.

March 7, 2009

L.A. Times YENTL Press/Interview

Original 25 Feb. 2009 Article >>

Barbra Streisand credits a sign from above for 'Yentl'

"I was frightened to do it myself," Streisand, 66, recently acknowledged. "But I had a vision of it."

By Susan King

It was a challenge that Barbra Streisand wasn't sure she could handle.

Though she made her directorial debut with 1983's "Yentl" -- the musical drama about a young Jewish woman who disguises herself as a man -- she was initially wary of taking on filmmaker duties for the cinematic adaptation of Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story.

She even went as far as to have conversations with other directors about helming the project, including French director Claude Berri, who had made one of Streisand's favorite films, "The Two of Us," a touching drama about the friendship that develops between a Gentile and a young Jewish boy during World War II.

"I was frightened to do it myself," Streisand, 66, recently acknowledged. "But I had a vision of it. I was looking for a sign whether or not to direct it."

She found the inspiration at her father's grave. Emanuel Streisand, who was a scholar and teacher, had died when she was just 15 months old.

"I had never been to my father's grave -- isn't that interesting? -- until I was 39 years old," she said, adding that perhaps she had stayed away because it was too painful for her.

"I never had a picture with my father," she said. "When I came home my brother sent me the picture of my arm around the tombstone. And I think it was [producer] Rusty Lemorande who said, 'Oh, my God. Look at the picture."

In the photo, the tombstone next to her father's was for a person named "Anshel," the name Yentl takes when she becomes a man.

"That was the sign," Streisand said. "I have to direct it."

Earlier this month, the two-disc director's cut arrived on DVD.

The DVD features warm, engaging commentary from Streisand and Lemorande (her former assistant who produced the film with her), rehearsal footage that Streisand shot in Los Angeles from her own archives, two songs that didn't make the cut in the original movie along with the storyboards of the numbers, as well as some deleted scenes. It also features the 8-millimeter "concept film" that Streisand shot on location in Europe to sell the movie.

Based on Singer's "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy," the film revolves around Yentl (Streisand), who lives in Europe at the turn of the 19th century and wants to be a scholar and study the Torah. But women then were not permitted to study. So after the death of her father, she disguises herself as Anshel to make her dream come true.

Problems ensue when she falls in love with a fellow student, Avigdor (Mandy Patinkin), who, in turn, is in love with a beautiful young woman, Hadass (Amy Irving). But her parents won't let him marry her, so Avigdor persuades Yentl to marry her.

After the film was released, Streisand, who co-wrote the script with Jack Rosenthal, became the first woman to win the Golden Globe for best director. The movie went on to win an Oscar for best original score, featuring the songs "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" and "The Way He Makes Me Feel."

Revisiting the film for the new DVD "brought back a lot of memories and the challenges of getting the film made," Streisand said. "We didn't have any money. We didn't have a video camera. I think it was an 8-millimeter film camera. When I would interview actors, I would also have them do scenes in front of my little 8-millimeter camera to see how they responded in front of a camera, whether they would be natural or freeze up".

Streisand bought the rights to the story in 1968, the year she made her Oscar-winning film debut in "Funny Girl." However, she was told that audiences didn't want to see her playing another Jewish character. But Streisand felt that it was a "universal story of the limits that are put upon a woman -- just because she wanted an education, she had to dress as a male. It was as simple as that."

Much like her character, Streisand said, she struggled with gender bias when trying to get the movie made. She hid the fact that she had co-written the script by not putting her name on it. "I was afraid if they saw my name on it, [people in Hollywood] wouldn't like it," she admitted.

Streisand even put the film's credits at the end of the movie, which was unusual back in 1983. "In those days, the credits of a film were at the beginning. And the reason I didn't put it on in the beginning is that I didn't want [audiences] to be prejudiced -- 'Oh, she directed it' -- and have them think about it. I think it was easier for women who weren't actresses" to become directors.

These days, she explained , people "don't look askance" at a female director. "If it's a female director, it's a female director."

It's been years since Streisand last worked as a director, on 1996's "The Mirror Has Two Faces" (she also starred opposite Jeff Bridges in the romantic comedy).

"I'm not that ambitious," she said. "I don't like to do one movie after another."

But she still hopes to direct the film version of Larry Kramer's early AIDS drama, "The Normal Heart."

"I've been working on it since I saw the play in 1985 and then did a screenplay in 1995. I've been trying to get it made," Streisand said. But this time, all of her work will be behind the camera. "I look forward to not being in my next movie -- just directing. I really care much more about the other actors' performance than I do my own."

February 11, 2009

Yentl on Huff Post

Paul Katz's most excellent blog about the new YENTL DVD appears on the Huffington Post website.

February 3, 2009

Part Two of Matt & Paul's YENTL DVD Review

Here's the second part of our review of the new YENTL DVD ...

Part one is below ...

February 2, 2009

Matt & Paul's Review of YENTL Disc 2

Matt is in Los Angeles this week, but still managed to view the new YENTL DVD, due in stores tomorrow, February 3, 2009. Below is Matt and Paul Katz giving their video review.

Still from YENTL DVD

January 16, 2009

Yentl Charting at Amazon

The upcoming Yentl DVD is charting as high as number 6 on Amazon's Bestseller's in Movie and TV list (which is updated hourly).

You can pre-order Yentl by using the Amazon ad to the left.

January 9, 2009

Revised Specs + Amazon

Yes, Yentl has been added back to Amazon with the correct price. You can pre-order it here.

Also, it looks like the Fox Store (they distribute the MGM titles) has updated and provided more specific specs for the 2-DVD set. I will confirm this with MGM. For now, I've bolded some of the interesting items they are listing:

Disc 1:

** Note: I am assuming that what they've probably done is create a seamless branching DVD in which you choose which version you want to watch from the menu. If you choose the director's extended cut, then the DVD will seamlessly branch to the cut scenes, which will also be available separately on the DVD. This is unconfirmed, but is my best guess.

Disc 2:

January 7, 2009

Region 2 DVD

Many European fans have emailed me asking about a Region 2 (Japan, Europe, South Africa, and the Middle East) version of the Director's Extended Edition of Yentl, which is due Feb. 3, 2009 in the U.S.

The MGM International folks tell me:

There is a Region 2 DVD available but we don't have plans to release a Special Edition at this time.

So, it looks like just a Region 1 (U.S., U.S. Territories, Canada, and Bermuda) DVD release at this time.

Region 2 DVD of Yentl

(Note that the Yentl Region 2 DVD was released in 2005—see cover art, above. It was a bare-bones release, featuring just the movie. It does not contain any of Streisand's bonus material, which will appear (see below) on the Region 1 Director's Extended Edition.)

December 24, 2008

Revised Yentl artwork

MGM has revised the cover art and produced a Press Release for the upcoming YENTL DVD. Note that "Director's Extended Edition" is not a new cut of the film, but rather, it refers to the added content on the 2-disc DVD. MGM also tells me that they have not planned a Blu-Ray version of YENTL at this time.


Barbra Streisand's Golden Globe Award-Winning Musical Odyssey Debuts on 2-Disc DVD for the First Time February 3 from MGM Home Entertainment

"Three cheers for chutzpah!"
Richard Corliss, Time

"…charming and moving..."
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Streisand gives Yentl a heart that sings and spirit that soars."
People Magazine

"The best directing debut since Citizen Kane!"
Steven Spielberg

LOS ANGELES, CA – In turn of the century Eastern Europe, a Jewish girl disguises herself as a boy in order to pursue a religious education in Yentl, available on DVD for the first time February 3rd from MGM Home Entertainment and timed to the films 25th Anniversary. Starring multiple award winner* Barbra Streisand (A Star Is Born, The Way We Were), Golden Globe® nominee** Mandy Patinkin ("Chicago Hope," The Princess Bride) and Amy Irving (Traffic, Crossing Delancey) in her Academy Award®-nominated role, Yentl is based on a play by Leah Napolin and Isaac Bashevis Singer's original short story "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy." When Yentl's (Streisand) father (played by Nehemiah Persoff), who secretly tutored her throughout her childhood in the Talmud – the primary source of Jewish religion law - dies, she faces a life of female drudgery with no hope of continuing her studies. Frustrated by her feminine destiny, feisty Yentl transforms herself into looking like a boy, renames herself Anshel, and heads for the nearest Talmudic academy where she hopes to pass as a male student. There she falls in love with fellow student Avigdor (Patinkin), who in turn is in love with Hadass (Irving). After numerous complications ensue, Yentl, determined to get what she wants, leaves Europe for America to pursue her dream of serious study without needing to hide her identity as a woman.

Incorporating humor and music to relate Yentl's journey, the film won an Academy Award in 1984 for best original score and received four Oscar nominations including Amy Irving for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Art Direction/Set Direction, and Best Original Songs including "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" and "The Way He Makes Me Feel," both sung by Streisand. Additional accolades include two Golden Globe award wins and four nominations, and a Grammy Award nomination for Best Album of Instrumental Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special.

The Yentl Extended Director's Edition Two-Disc DVD set includes never before seen bonus features such as Barbra Streisand's Original Concept Reel, rehearsal/final film comparisons, storyboard montages for musical numbers, deleted scenes, and much more, and will be available for a suggested retail price of $29.98 U.S./$37.98 Canada. Prebook is January 17th.


The legendary Barbra Streisand shines as producer, co-writer, director and star of this radiant film about a young woman who risks everything for her insatiable passion to learn. Masquerading as a young man, she enters the Yeshiva to fulfill her forbidden desire for knowledge. But in a place where even the strongest mind can be betrayed by the body, how long can she uphold her secret before her new friends – and the young man she's come to love – discover the shocking truth?

Special Features

The Yentl Extended Director's Edition DVD is presented in widescreen with English Dolby Surround 5.1 sound. Special features include:

Disc One:

Disc Two:

December 19, 2008

Yentl DVD Specs Released

Yentl will be a 2-DVD set, released on February 3, 2009.

MGM has provided details on what the DVD will contain:

Disc One:

Disc Two:

Pre-Order Yentl at >>

December 16, 2008

YENTL on DVD for First Time from MGM

Specs for the DVD are not confirmed yet.

The following information was released last month:

Special Features:

Run Time: 133, Audio: English & French, Subtitled: English & Spanish, Close Captioned.

Barbra Archives has heard a rumor that Yentl will be a 2-DVD set.

Yentl DVD


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