At the beginning of the twentieth century, Jews and Orthodox Christians live in the little village of Anatevka in the pre-revolutionary Russia of the Czars. Among the traditions of the Jewish community, the matchmaker arranges the match and the father approves it. The milkman Reb Tevye is a poor man that has been married for twenty-five years with Golde and they have five daughters. When the local matchmaker Yente arranges the match between his older daughter Tzeitel and the old widow butcher Lazar Wolf, Tevye agrees with the wedding. However Tzeitel is in love with the poor tailor Motel Kamzoil and they ask permission to Tevye to get married that he accepts to please his daughter. Then his second daughter Hodel (Michele Marsh) and the revolutionary student Perchik decide to marry each other and Tevye is forced to accept. When Perchik is arrested by the Czar troops and sent to Siberia, Hodel decides to leave her family and homeland and travel to Siberia to be with her beloved Perchik.... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Director Norman Jewison was brought into the project by executives at United Artists thinking he was Jewish. His first words to the executives upon meeting were, "You know I'm not Jewish... right?" See more »
During the first few shots of crowd holding candles on their way to the wedding, the sun changes positions above the horizon. (But as such indicates the length in time of the journey by foot, which could be intentional, in which case the slow melting of candles might be a goof in its own right). See more »
A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask 'Why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous?' Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!
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Topol and the cast sing "Tradition" without any opening credits rolling. At the end of the number, the fiddler, standing on the left of the screen, launches into an extensive solo while the opening credits roll on the right of the screen. See more »
The range and audacity of `Fiddler on the Roof' is stunning. By comparison today's musicals are timid, quaking things, terrified of frightening their audiences away however much `social relevance' bravado they may assume. This old musical is older than it looks. The film dates from 1971; the musical itself from 1963; but even then it was clear that it was the last of its kind, a delayed swan-song from the 1950s. There's sentiment, but no promise of a happy ending; humour, but not a trace of postmodern knowingness; realism, but and a willingness to indulge in fantasy, too. Musicals can't really survive without fantasy, and `Fiddler', along with `West Side Story', may very well mark the limit of just how serious it is possible to get without losing it. The songs are uniformly good. I don't know if Bock's music was usually so fitting, or if he happened to strike gold just once - not that it matters.
As for the film ... I only wish I'll get a chance to see it in a cinema, for the photography is beautiful - and it IS the photography that's doing it, since we're made to realise that neither the village nor its setting is picturesque in itself. Norman Jewison has assembled a cast not one member of which jars and makes the most of it. This film is quite long, and feels longer, but neither length nor apparent length is a liability.
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