WAYS TO
WATCH:

See all
In prerevolutionary Russia, a Jewish peasant contends with marrying off three of his daughters while growing antisemitic sentiment threatens his village.

Director:

Writers:

(adapted from stories) (as Sholem Aleichem), (adapted from Sholem Aleichem stories by special arrangement with) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
2,188 ( 291)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Biography | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower.

Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker
My Fair Lady (1964)
Drama | Family | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A misogynistic and snobbish phonetics professor agrees to a wager that he can take a flower girl and make her presentable in high society.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway
Mary Poppins (1964)
Comedy | Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A magic nanny comes to work for a cold banker's unhappy family.

Director: Robert Stevenson
Stars: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson
Oliver! (1968)
Drama | Family | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Musical adaptation about an orphan who runs away from an orphanage and hooks up with a group of boys trained to be pickpockets by an elderly mentor.

Director: Carol Reed
Stars: Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Shani Wallis
Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In the year before the 1904 St Louis World's Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor
Annie (1982)
Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A young orphan girl's adventures in finding a family that will take her.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney, Carol Burnett
Family | Fantasy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Charlie receives a golden ticket to a factory, his sweet tooth wants going into the lushing candy, it turns out there's an adventure in everything.

Director: Mel Stuart
Stars: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum
Comedy | Family | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Teenage twin sisters swap places and scheme to reunite their divorced parents.

Director: David Swift
Stars: Hayley Mills, Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith
1776 (1972)
Drama | Family | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A musical retelling of the American Revolution's political struggle in the Continental Congress to declare independence.

Director: Peter H. Hunt
Stars: William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Ken Howard
Adventure | Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A down-on-his-luck inventor turns a broken-down Grand Prix car into a fancy vehicle for his children, and then they go off on a magical fantasy adventure to save their grandfather in a far-off land.

Director: Ken Hughes
Stars: Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Lionel Jeffries
Adventure | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Swiss family must survive being shipwrecked on a deserted island.

Director: Ken Annakin
Stars: John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur
Animation | Adventure | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear have a difficult time trying to convince a boy to leave the jungle for human civilization.

Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Stars: Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Louis Prima
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Paul Mann ...
...
...
Neva Small ...
...
Perchik (as Michael Glaser)
Ray Lovelock ...
Fyedka (as Raymond Lovelock)
Elaine Edwards ...
Candy Bonstein ...
Shimen Ruskin ...
Zvee Scooler ...
...
Edit

Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The screen's most magnificent entertainment returns...filled with joy, laughter, love and life. (re-release) See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

3 November 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El violinista en el tejado  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$50,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)| (35 mm mag-optical prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

To get the look he wanted for the film, director Norman Jewison told Director of Photography Oswald Morris, who was famous for shooting color films in unusual styles, to shoot the film in an earthy tone. Morris saw a woman wearing brown nylon hosiery, thought "That's the tone we want," asked the woman for the stockings on the spot, and shot the entire film with a stocking over the lens. The weave can be detected in some scenes. Morris also shot the musical number "Tevye's Dream" in sepia rather than in full color. He had previously filmed Moulin Rouge (1952) with a color style made to resemble Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings and Moby Dick (1956) in a color style made to resemble 19th century engravings of life at sea. See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the dancing scene in Mordcha's inn, we see the Jews holding hands and dancing to one side, and the Russians walking ducked through the spaces between their bodies to the other side. In the first two takes, we see four Russians, and in the following two takes only three, the one on the right, with brown hair and a blue shirt, is gone. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Tevye: 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!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Version of Tevya (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Wedding Celebration and Bottle Dance
(1964) (uncredited)
(Instrumental)
Music by Jerry Bock
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
On the other hand, the good book says that this is an excellent film
5 June 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Epic in plot, setting and length, Fiddler on the Roof tells a surprisingly tight and focused story that has "universal" poignancy--in a nutshell, it's about trying to maintain strong cultural traditions and identity in the face of a continually changing world, partially fueled by the youth, that doesn't necessarily share the culture's values or self-assessment of worth.

The plot is based on short stories written around the turn of the 20th Century by Sholom Aleichem, who was often called the "Russian Mark Twain". Aleichem wrote a number of works based on his character Tevye the Milkman, who has seven daughters (in the film, this was pared down to five). They live in the fictional Jewish shtetl ("village", or "little town or city") of Anatevka in Tsarist Russia in the early 1900s. The stories are "slice of life" stuff. A lot of attention is paid to Tevye's daughters and their potential suitors. One of the prominent conflicts with tradition is a struggle with arranged marriages versus marriages for love, but of course, being set in pre-revolutionary Russia, there are also political changes brewing, some of which have a profound affect on Tevye's family and village.

Aleichem's Tevye stories were first turned into a Broadway musical, which began its initial run in 1964 with Zero Mostel as Tevye. Producer and director Norman Jewison, who had had success with films like In the Heat of the Night (1967) and The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), and who was experienced as a producer and director for musical-oriented televisions shows, including "Your Hit Parade" (1950) and "The Judy Garland Show" (1960), was asked around early 1970 by United Artists to helm the Fiddler on the Roof film. To their surprise, Jewison wasn't Jewish. He got the gig anyway, and in August 1970, began an arduous shoot--much of it done in a small village in Yugoslavia that refused to cooperate when it came to weather (Jewison couldn't get the snow he wanted). He ended up getting a lot of pressure because the shoot went over time and over budget--this was one of the most expensive films of its time, which was an era of economic woes for Hollywood--but of course we know it paid off in the end.

Zero Mostel was out as Tevye, and Israeli actor Chaim Topol, or just "Topol", was in, based largely on Jewison seeing him in the role of Tevye in the London stage production of Fiddler. Jewison had said that he was shooting for more realism in the film, as opposed to what he saw as a kind of campy humor in the Broadway production.

In my eyes, Jewison ended up with a bit of both approaches in his finished film, but that's all for the better. Sequences like the opening "Tradition" montage are hilarious in their juxtaposition of a grand operatic attitude and the rhythmic coordination of cleaning fish, hanging slabs of meat, and so on. Yes, a lot of Fiddler is very realistic, but it's equally humorous and surrealistic most of the time.

The realism is largely thanks to the authentic settings, the fabulous production and costume design, and of course, the superb performances. The humor is a factor of the above with that Mark Twain-ish aspect of Aleichem's stories and the fine script by Joseph Stine.

The surrealism comes largely by way of the cinematography. Some of the visual sense is reminiscent of Marc Chagall's early work and his later, nostalgic depictions of his native Russia, and in fact, the image of the fiddler on the roof comes directly from a Chagall painting. Jewison saw the fiddler as a cross between a metaphor for the Jewish spirit (and this is explained in more detail via a few lines of dialogue in the film) and an actual physical manifestation of a spirit. However we interpret the fiddler, the shots of him and his presence in the film are certainly poetic. Jewison also gives us some fabulous, surreal, wide landscape shots, such as those of agricultural fields and the beautiful "wasteland" in which the train tracks are set. There are a few scenes set on the banks of a river, overlooked by a bridge, that are reminiscent of particular Van Gogh paintings. And as a more subtle bit of surrealism, Jewison had cinematographer Oswald Morris shoot much of the film though a woman's stocking--the mesh is very clearly visible in some exterior shots. Of course, there are also a couple more surrealistic touches in the plot, my favorite being the Tevye's Dream sequence, which features traditionalist Jewish zombies in an operatic attitude.

A musical couldn't be a 10 without great music, and Fiddler on the Roof has it. The songs are a marvelous melding of traditional Russian folk melodies, with appropriate twinges of Orientalism and the expected Broadway sound, but maybe leaning a bit closer to a modern opera. From that description, you might think that the music would be a mess, but all of the songs are inventive and catchy. They are seamlessly melded with the drama, furthering the narrative as they should. The choreography is excellent and it is well shot by Jewison. And Isaac Stern's violin solos are outstanding, of course.

Fiddler on the Roof takes an investment of time--it's three hours long, but it's well worth it. It offers great drama, great music, great humor and great tragedy in a beautiful package--you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll sing, and you just might break a leg trying to dance.


104 of 127 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Movies with intermissions daco1234
Zero Mostel not playing Tevye? amkatz
'The Tailor Motel Kamzoil' curlew-2
A question about Jewish Marriage emmaclarke781
Do you think Topol should of won the Academy Award for best Actor??? khawley91
Does anybody else feel sorry for the butcher? timebreeze
Discuss Fiddler on the Roof (1971) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page