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Monday, May 21, 2007

Fiddler on the Roof

***** Fiddler on the Roof. Musical.

Directed by: Norman Jewison.
Starring: Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Paul Michael Glaser.

I'd never seen this, or at least never seen the entire film. I knew all the songs already, and Carl says we saw it as a play, but if we did, a lot of stuff was cut out. We got this from Netflix--it was in my "classics" queue. It's not the only classic I've never seen.

Milkman Tevye (Topol), his wife, and five (!) daughters in pre-revolutionary Russia. I remember my parents going to see this at the theater, probably back in 1971, when it was released, and listening to my mom and some of her friends swooning over Topol. I have to say, I can see their point. It's not the appearance, it's the character.

One by one, his older daughters buck tradition and choose their own husbands by falling in love: a penniless tailor, a revolutionary teacher, and a local, non-Jewish Russian boy. And despite his bluster at not being obeyed as the head of the household, one by one they twist him around their little fingers. (The last one almost doesn't succeed.) One of the sweetest moments in the movie comes when all this romance gets to Tevye and he asks his wife of many years if she loves him.

It's a wonderfully emotional snapshot of the setting--the time and the place, but it's not just historical drama. It's about the struggle to find, accept, and hold on to one's roles in the family and in society, something everyone can relate to.

The historical parts--the anti-Semitism that forced these people from their homes--were hard to watch, but important, especially if the thinking they provoke extends beyond the specific people, time, and place. The lesson is all the more powerful for being surrounded by warmth and humor.

The music is, of course, the first thing I think of, and is just perfect. Even the boys liked it, and I've heard warped versions of "If I Were a Rich Man" around the house a few times since we finished watching the movie.


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I've lost track of how many times I've seen the film and the stage play. Certainly enough times to know all the songs. LOL!
I'm not sure how I knew all the songs without having seen the whole thing, but I'll definitely be watching it again!
Hmmm I haven't seen this musical movie...and here I thought I have seen all the musicals there is LOL...going to add this to my netflix. Thanks Darla!
Nice to know I'm not the only one! Hope you enjoy it, Julia! The songs are fabulous.
Oh I love this movie...once saw a big performance of it with my daughter. Matchmaker matchmaker make me a match...

Robin Williams sings it as Mrs.Doutfire! And Gwen Steffni has asample of If I were A Rich Man in one of her first solo albums.

What a great movie for the whole family...good review girl!
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