Fiddler on the Roof – 1971 – English
Film directed in 1971 by Norman Jewison, and starring Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Molly Picon, Paul Mann, Rosalind Harris, Michele Marsh, Neva Small, Paul Michael Glaser, Raymond Lovelock…
Synopsis: 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….
Review: I love “Fiddler on the Roof” so much it’s difficult for me to comment on it in a detached way. I just think about it and I’m filled with emotion. (And I’m not the sentimental type!) It honestly depicts what it means to be human. It contains love, faith, family, friendship, humour, violence, hate, prejudice, change, vulnerability, joy, community, anger…everything. This film is a tribute to the Jewish people, but you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy it. It’s so rich that everyone can identify with it, and learn from it.
As for the music, all the songs fit in naturally and stand on their own as classics. “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were A Rich Man” – need I say more? When Hodel sings “Far From the Home I Love” it’s tissue time. They’re all so beautiful! If you usually find it hard to take when characters in musicals suddenly burst into song, don’t worry, in this film it’s so seamless you can’t imagine them communicating any other way. The music makes it easier for them to say things they normally wouldn’t in conversation.
The characters are so real and down-to-earth. They’re strong, hard-working people, who have their priorities straight. I can’t write about FOTR without mentioning Tevye – the centre of this whirling story, and a man who, like all of us, struggles with the pace with which his world is changing. He clings to the past, yet accepts what the future may bring. I don’t think there is another film out there that addresses how insecure we feel with change. But hey, that’s life. “To life, to life, la chayim!!”