The story of life in the village of Anatevka, in Russia, as told through the eyes of the Jewish milkman, Tevye (Chaim Topol).
All of life's emotions are in this film. Joy, despair, fear... All brought to life by brilliant acting, humour and song such as 'If I were a rich man', 'Sunrise, sunset'.
You cannot watch this movie and remain untouched by the plight of the Jewish people, as they sought to go about their business, but suffer bitter persecution for no other reason than being Jewish.
One of my favourite quotes is when a student asks the Rabbi if there is a blessing for the Czar. The Rabbi thinks, then smiles...'May God bless the Czar and keep him... far from us!'
This is a long movie at 3 hours, but it draws in you to such an extent that the time flies.
Highly recommended. One for all the family.
on 22 April 2005
"Fiddler on the Roof" is one of the best films ever made. It is a musical with wonderful songs, but at the same time, it is so much more. First and foremost, it is a film about family ties, values, and conflicts. It is a film about love. It is a historical film. It is very funny, very witty, and very sad, all at the same time. I laughed, and then I cried. It has memorable characters: Haim Topol, who played Tevya the milkman on the stage in London, is made for the role, and has become identified with it. He portrays an authoritative, yet sympathetic father, and he is the source of many witty and very funny comments about life. Just to give you a few examples: "Would it spoil some vast eternal plan / If I were a wealthy man?" or "A bird may love a fish, but where will they build a house together?" or in attempting to explain why it is necessary to stick to tradition, "I'll tell you. I don't know."
Norma Crane is wonderful in playing Tevye's wife. Life has not been good to her, and this shows, and she has never experienced romantic love. It takes 25 years to realize that she loves Tevye, to whom she was married through the matchmaker. But she is a good, loving, and despite her bitterness, forgiving mother.
There are other memorable characters, such as Yente the matchmaker, Lazer Wolf the butcher, and Mottel the tailor. The three eldest daughters are beautiful and dream of a great match. Their song, "Matchmaker," is one of the best songs ever written for a musical. Going contrary to tradition, each of them foregoes the services of the matchmaker and marries out of love, even if the price is poverty, suffering, or banishment from the family.
The first part of the film focuses on ordinary everyday life in the village of Anatevka. The second part dramatizes a dark page of history, as the village Jews first suffer a pogrom, and are eventually driven out of their village at the orders of the czar. Some of them head for America, others for the Holy Land, but some move to a different part of Russia or to Poland, and we cannot supress the knowledge that this is a very sad ending indeed, as we know that they and their children will end up in Nazi concentration camps.
The film is replete with humour, wit, love, and great songs, among which "Tradition" (accompanied by wonderfully clever film shots, "Matchmaker," "If I Were a Rich Man," "To life," "Sunrise, Sunset," "Anatevka," some merry, some hearbreaking, all utterly enjoyable and touching.
Pay attention to the opening shot of the film, it is absolutely brilliant. The cinematography is splendid, the colours are strong and fresh. The locations are beautiful and faithfully recreate village life.
The second disc is replete with information, such as a documentary on the shooting of "Fiddler," on location in Yougoslavia, in 1971, which is excellent and in parts brought me to tears, as the director talked about the historical context of the film; a shorter interview with the director, Norman Jewison, reminiscing about the making of this film (by the way, he recounts that the producers at MGM thought he was Jewish, because of his name, and were surprised to learn that he is actually Christian); authentic period photographs; the director reading from two stories by Shalom Aleichem; a deleted song, "Any Day Now," which I regretted they deleted; posters, trailers and TV spots.
I really urge you to buy this DVD, it is a film you will constantly love to rewatch, and to which you cannot remain indifferent. You will laugh, cry, be entertained, as well as deeply touched. It is one of my most treasured DVD acquisitions, and one that will never lose its grip. I had seen it on TV several times before, and I still wanted to purchase it so as to be able to return to it time and again.
on 22 February 2005
Tevye (played brilliantly by Topol) is a poor Russian trying to keep house for his wife and five daughters. Life plods on in daily grind until the day he tries to arrange a marriage for his oldest daughter only to find she has promised to marry a local tailor. This goes against everything he believes in and his struggle to come to terms with the changes around him is both hilarious and poignant to watch. I'd defy any parent not to get emotional when watching 'Sunrise Sunset' being sang at the wedding.
When daughter number two decides to follow the poor student she loves to his exile in Siberia, Tevya is still upset but more philosophical than previously. However, daughter number three, the apple of his eye, has chosen to marry a Gentile, to turn her back on the Jewish faith. His torment is palpable as he tries to reconcile his beliefs with his love for his daughter.
Set during the time of the Russian Pogroms, where Jews were being driven from their homes and into exile, this is at times a very sad film. However, for the greater part of the film, Tevyas exhuberance is infectious and the music is wonderful, such songs as 'If I were a Rich Man', 'Matchmaker, Matchmaker', 'Wonder of Wonders',have you tapping your feet.
One of the best musicals ever made. Highly recommended.
on 3 October 2003
Although superficially a sentimental musical, Fiddler’s enduring popularity rests on its timeless representation of the conflict between the internal cohesion of community and tradition, and the external forces of ethnic strife and progress. It is also impossible to watch it without bringing away some understanding of the Jewish condition, whatever your views on present-day Israel.
Topol strides like a magnetic giant through the film, in the role with which he has become synonymous, bouncing off a strong supporting international cast. Watch out for Michael Glaser in a non-singing role, his ‘Starsky and Hutch’ days still to come. The village of Anatevka was beautifully recreated in minuscule detail by set designers in Yugoslavia, and succeeds in transferring this stage play to the screen believably.
The DVD commentary by Topol and director Norman Jewison provide a fascinating insight into the research that went into making the film look and feel authentic. Anecdotes also reveal, amongst other things, how make-up artists laboured to age the 35-year-old Topol, the real reason for his passionate expression during the ‘Rich Man’ song, how they managed to keep ‘God’ in place between shots and what happened to Tevye’s horse after the production was finished.
on 28 March 2013
Reviews for the US release of this title note obvious and distracting audio sync issues. I found NO audio sync issues with this release. For all you disgruntled Americans, get this version, it is multi-region.
I love this movie. When I bought my first DVD player way back last century the first DVD I bought was Fiddler On the Roof. The blu-ray "print" is superb. Both the video and audio quality are wonderful.
I had no difficulty hearing any of the dialogue, the front left and right speakers and centre speaker are used very well to create a very natural front sound field. The rear surround speakers are not used too much, but when they are for ambient sounds it is very effective. The singing is the best I've heard.
The video is crisp, clear and clean without being harsh, with colours vibrant and natural. You can make out so much detail on faces and such that sometimes it can be distracting.
I like accurate historical drama and the director has tried very hard to keep the details and surroundings accurate, while still giving us an engrossing story. I don't intend to go into any detail of the story, but I found the characterisations real and the acting superb. While watching the movie I found I could also gain an accurate historical view of the conditions that created the zionist movements to reclaim an Israeli homeland, and also the mass Jewish migrations into North America, and to a lesser extent Australia.