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Fiddler on the Roof

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Do we really have no thread on one of the greatest movie musicals ever made!?

Link to some thoughts I posted on the film at OnFilm nearly five years ago.

IGN.com reports that there is a new 2-disc set coming out in a few weeks, but at a glance, it doesn't seem to have much more than the 2-sided single disc that I've had for five years. (And I was very impressed with that earlier disc!)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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It's #86 on the top 100. It is certainly one of the musicals that make the transition from stage to film (although I think stage is a touch better, assuming a good cast).

And Alan will no doubt tell us to rate it.

Edited by Darrel Manson
A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film

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  • 5 years later...

So while this was always a family favorite, I can't say I ever paid too much attention to it. I just saw it again and, damn, it's much better than I remembered. While I remembered the song, I didn't remember the film interacting with so much depth on what it means to follow traditions and religious law. Sometimes with our modern culture today, I struggle with even understanding the very concept of "tradition" in the first place. And here is a story about a people whose traditions define their very identity and survival.

I didn't remember that there was an actual drinking song (with lots of drinking). I didn't remember how good Tevye's prayers were, or how natural. I didn't remember that Tim Burton had directed a scene in the film. I didn't remember how many sad little moments and heartbreaking songs there were (Sunrise Sunset, Far from the Home I Love, Little Bird, etc).

The actor Chaim Topol is so incredibly perfect for the part of Tevye. His crooked teeth smile and wisecracking asides make for the warmest of personalities. He and Norma Crane's "Golde make shouting at each other at the top of their lungs seem like a way of showing affection. The story is about a man who is generous, tolerant, moderating, humorous, self-depreciating and yet he loves and holds to the traditions of his faith and people, and yet he bends and lets some traditions slide, bluntly acknowledges that he doesn't understand the reasons/reasoning behind each of them, and still finds a line that he is unwilling to cross with tragic consequences.

And how can I not help loving a film with dialogue like this?

Tevye: Is he in bad trouble, that hero of yours? Arrested? Convicted?

Hodel: Yes. But he did nothing wrong. He cares nothing for himself. Everything he does is for other people.

Tevye: Yes, but if he did nothing wrong, he wouldn't be in trouble.

Hodel: Papa, how can you say that? What wrongs did Joseph do? And Abraham, and Moses? And they had troubles.

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