Sammy Barnathan is a key character in "Synecdoche, New York," which was written and directed by Charlie Kaufman. In the interview excerpt below, Kaufman suggests that there is meaning behind the name:

"That character's name is maybe something someone will pick up on, maybe someone won't."

I'm one of the people who is not picking up on the name, so does anyone know what is significant about the character name Sammy Barnathan?

  • The main character's name is Caden Cotard. There is a disorder called "Cotard Disorder" those with the disorder believe they are dead.
    – user4268
    Mar 1 '13 at 20:56

From Charlie Kaufman: Confessions of an Original Mind, p.138 (by Doreen Alexander Child)

The character's name, Sammy Barnathan, may be a clever play on the name of a Rabbi in the Talmud. Rabbi Samuel bar Nathan had a prayer leader removed from guiding a religious service because of his excessive bowing. This overly submissive posture greatly angered the Rabbi, and in turn he fired the cantor from his position. Tom Noonan's character Sammy essentially fires Caden from this life as his passivity is unacceptable.

  • Thanks for this helpful answer! I am almost ready to accept it, but I can't find anything else on the rabbi after some Googling. Anyone know of any evidence of this rabbi being in the Talmud?
    – Shiz Z.
    Jul 17 '12 at 1:13
  • 3
    Try books.google.com - The Talmud of Jerusalem, Volume 1, p 24 (I do love a challenge!)
    – MJ6
    Jul 17 '12 at 4:09

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