The opening scene bursting to life with its historical brilliance and explanation of Jewish “tradition” is an amazing opening to a musical. As soon as you see and hear Topol you know you are in for a wonderful treat.
Tevye (Topol) a poor milkman has five young girls to feed. He battles with tradition and his love for his children. His three eldest all fall in love with men who are traditionally not acceptable, an underprivileged man, a revolutionary and a man who is not Jewish.
They are eventually allowed to marry the men whom they love, with a few hiccups on the way, without the use of a “matchmaker”. He and all the Jewish people of Russia are forced to leave their lands and leave the country in exile. A great story of how Tevye’s love, pride and faith help him face the oppression of the turn-of-the century tsarist Russia.
Norman Jewison’s adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof has many great screen shots and is a visual marvel.
Jewison’s Fiddler on the Roof is bright, both in appearance and in mood. Jewison’s vision of tsarist Russia is brilliant, bright, wonderful and yet extremely dangerous especially for the Jews. This is portrayed through costume, a great set and a brilliantly hilarious script.
As aforementioned the script is brilliant and has a lot of speech for a musical. The language is perhaps more modern than it would have been in tsarist Russia however with it being written in English it is hard to tell how a Russian would have spoke.
The accents that they have chosen for Fiddler on the Roof are perfect for the type of musical it is. Joseph Stein’s script is extremely funny and tremendously emotional. The lyrics of the songs are wonderful and proof of this is how well known and notorious the songs have become. The songs that come to mind are “Matchmaker”, “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” even modern artists have attempted to use these songs in their profession.
The signing is radiant and breathtaking which would be excellent on stage and film. Topol’s singing, acting and dancing combination is without a doubt the highlight of the film. Every actor even the extras are good singers, dancers and actors without a single performer lowering the brilliance of the musical. Topol is a comic genius; he has compassion for acting which is evident in Fiddler on the Roof. Leonard Frey is a fantastic supporting actor and deserves as much credit for his role in Fiddler on the Roof as any other actor.
All aspects of this film are brilliant the acting, directing, lyrics, singing and dancing are all equally great. Fiddler on the Roof is stunning, elated and jubilant a musical masterpiece. Due to the great original ideas that this musical holds and the qualities that it possesses Fiddler on the Roof is without a doubt one to see. Rating: five out of five.