After a successful run on Broadway this Tony Award-winning musical was made into an equally successful film directed by Canadian Norman Jewison (Moonstruck, Agnes of God). The film was nominated for eight and won three Oscars in 1971 and has been enjoyed by generations since. For me, what really makes the film is the music, including the songs “If I Were A Rich Man”, “Matchmaker” and “Sunrise, Sunset”. You will find yourself singing them long after watching the film. After hearing “If I Were A Rich Man” I’d have to say that the song obviously stuck with Gwen Stefani!
It is an oftentimes funny and sometimes moving film of love, hope even in the face of oppression and acceptance. In its essence the film is about what it means to be a human being. It is about love, family, faith, violence, prejudice, and joy. All scenes, whether they are the ones that make you laugh or cry, are brought to the screen with plenty of energy. Like most musicals there is an element of fantasy to it, but that is only to alleviate some of the gloominess that reality brings along with it. The center of the film is Tevye/Topol and his performance is wonderful. He brings to life a character who is weary, funny, wise, and fearful. It is a time commitment you will make to watch “Fiddler on the Roof” as it is 3 hours long, but it is time well spent.
It is the year of 1905 and the setting is a small Russian village called Anatevka. The subject of the film is the life story of Tevye (Topol – For Your Eyes Only), a poor Jewish peasant who earns his living as a milkman. Tevye has to do back breaking work in order to support his wife, Golde (Norma Crane – appeared in episodes of Gunsmoke and The Fugitive), and five unmarried daughters, Tzeitel (Rosalind Harris – The Cotton Club), Chava (Neva Small – appeared in episodes of Law & Order), Shprintze (Elaine Edwards – first film), Bielke (Candy Bonstein – first film), and Hodel (Michele Marsh – appeared in episodes of Mannix and Little House on the Prairie). Yente (Molly Picon – The Cannonball Run), the village matchmaker, tries to marry off three of the girls, but doesn’t have much luck. Even their father, Tevye runs into problems marrying his daughters off because he wants to stick to old traditions and they want to marry for love. What is a father to do? The idea that he must stick to old traditions is an even stronger one based on the dangers that are facing Jews at this time in Russian history.
-Norman Jewison Filmmaker
-Norman Jewison Looks Back
-Tevye’s Dream in Color
-Side by Side Comparison
-John Williams: Creating a Musical Tradition
-Songs of Fiddler on the Roof
-Deleted Song: Any Day Now
-Set in Reality: Production Design
-Storyboard to Film Comparison