Hammer raises the following themes:
- The Meaning of Chanukah
- Black-Jewish Relations
- The Golem Legend: The Superhero as a Metaphor for the Jewish People's Quest for Equality, Autonomy and Power
- The Portrayal of Jews, Blacks and Other Minorities in Film
- The Role of Art in Empowering the Powerlessness
- Sex in Judaism
- The Depiction of Jewish Women in Film and Literature
- These themes can be the subject of pre- and post-film discussions with Hillel professionals or faculty.
What motivated the writer/director to make this movie? Have you ever felt this way?
What do you make of the fact the two heroes' names are Mordechai and Esther? Can you think of other traditional Jewish heroes? What role does storytelling play in a community's consciousness?
Do you think this depiction of hostility and powerlessness truly represents the Jews' position in contemporary society?
How do the high rate of intermarriage and the existence of the State of Israel alter traditional notions of Jewish powerlessness and the persistence of anti-Semitism?
How do you feel about the character development? Are you offended by the fact that it is two-dimensional?
How would you describe the depiction of women in the film? How do the characters Esther Bloomenbergensteinthal (Hammer's girlfriend) and Hammer's mother differ? How are they the same?
Do you feel that the Black-Jewish relationship depicted in the movie is accurate from your experience?
How do you feel about the juxtaposition of sexuality and substance in the movie? Does it work for you or do you think it's gratuitous?
How do you feel about the Evil Santa character? Does it threaten to tarnish all non-Jews?
Movies are a leitmotif of the film. How does Hammer compare to the others that are mentioned: Schindler's List, Fiddler on the Roof, Yentl, and It's a Wonderful Life? Can you name any other movies with a strong Jewish theme? How does Hammer compare?Program Ideas:
The following is a list of program ideas based on Hammer's themes.Coalition Building:
The film screening offers opportunities to partner with African-American groups, Film Studies Department, African-American Studies, Jewish Studies, and Women's Studies. Meaningful discussions can take place with these partners in planning the screening.
Cinema and Soul Food: Precede the screening with a dinner featuring traditional Black and Jewish foods.
Screening for a Cause: Charge admission and offer refreshments with all proceeds going to a charity.
Screening for Life: Invite the Red Cross to do a blood donation before the show.
Seventies Night: Invite the audience to don their finest 1970s clothing. Give an award to the best-dressed male and female.
Show Us Your Shorts: Invite students to show their own films before or after the Hammer screening.
Early Chanukah: Celebrate the holiday a few weeks early. Offer latkes, donuts, gelt and other treats. Light the candles (no need for the blessings, though). Give out dreidels. It's never too early to celebrate.