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Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness (2011)

 -  Documentary  -  8 July 2011 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 121 users   Metascore: 77/100
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A riveting portrait of the great writer whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness tells the tale of the ... See full summary »



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Title: Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness (2011)

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Credited cast:
Shayne Sheyndl (voice)
Hillel Halkin ...
Dan Miron ...
David Roskies ...
Ruth Wisse ...


A riveting portrait of the great writer whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness tells the tale of the rebellious genius who created an entirely new literature. Plumbing the depths of a Jewish world locked in crisis and on the cusp of profound change, he captured that world with brilliant humor. Sholem Aleichem was not just a witness to the creation of a new modern Jewish identity, but one of the very men who forged it. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

jewish identity


Before there was Fiddler, there was Tevye... and the man who created him.






Official Sites:




Release Date:

8 July 2011 (USA)  »

Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$20,247 (USA) (8 July 2011)


$906,666 (USA) (11 May 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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User Reviews

16 October 2011 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Typically a documentary on an individual is either presented as a look back at their life or an observation of their lasting impact. Director Joseph Dorman provides both of these PLUS critical reviews and analysis of the writings of Sholem Aleichem, the writer whose work inspired Fiddler on the Roof. It is an absorbing look at who most would consider to be the most famous Yiddish writer and humorist. His work really bridged the gap between the old world Jews and the rapidly changing and evolving modernists from the turn of the 20th century.

At times the film plays like a classroom presentation for 8th graders in World History, but look closer and you'll see many fascinating, rare photographs and video. There is even one bit of audio featuring Aleichem himself reading his own words. Mostly we get Alan Rosenberg as the narrator and Peter Riegert as the voice of the readings.

What makes this enthralling, interesting and educational are the terrific interviews with Yiddish experts, and the on camera presence of author Bel Kaufman, Aleichem's granddaughter. There is no fluff or filler here. These people provide real insight and analysis and perspective on his life and writings. The photo montage of the funeral procession with 200,000 New Yorkers is a sight to behold.

Maybe you have read the original literary work "Tevye the Dairyman". Perhaps you have seen the 1939 film Tevye. Maybe you were fortunate enough to have seen the original Broadway run of "Fiddler on the Roof". Most likely you have seen the 1971 film musical with the great Topol as Tevye. This film points out that the words and message of Aleichem have been twisted and shifted over the years, but there is no questioning the lasting impact and his determination to document ... Tradition!

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