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Fiddler on the Roof, a Musical – A Review

I have chosen “Fiddler on the Roof” as a musical theatre piece to view. This particular piece that I am viewing is a film, which was adapted from the extremely successful stage production. This film is in English, but at some points it is still difficult to understand certain things that are said, especially how they pronounce ones name because of the Jewish accents. This piece is adapted from a stage play done by Joseph Stein. The music was by Jerry Bock. The lyrics were done by Sheldon Harnick. This musical open in 1965 and was turned into a film in 1971. “Fiddler on the Roof” was based on Sholom Aleichem’s stories.

The film is produced and directed by Norman Jewison. The choreography was done by Jerome Robbins. This piece was produced on the New York stage by Harold Prince. This was adapted for the screen by Tom Abbott.

The Characters in the film are Tevye (played by Topol) is the main character in this film. He is a poor milk man that turns to god for answers and has five unwed daughters. Golde (played by Norma Crane) is Tevye’s stubborn wife. Motel (played by Leonard Frey) is a poor hard working tailor. Yente (played by Molly Picon) is the village’s matchmaker. Lazar Wolf (played by Paul Mann) is a lonely butcher looking for a wife. Tzeitel (played by Rosalind Harris) Tevye’s daughter that is in love with Motel. Hodel (played by Michelle Marsh) another one of Tevye’s daughter that falls in love with Perchik. Chava (played by Neva Small) the third oldest daughter of Tevye that fall in love with Fyedka (played by Raymond Lovelock). Perchik (played by Michael Glaser) is an educated man is educating Tevye’s two young daughters and falls in love with Hodel.

The “Fiddler on the Roof” takes place in a small Jewish village of Anatevka, Russia around Tsarist rule (which is rule under the Russian empire). The people in this village do not worry or care what is going on in the world around them; they just worry about their selves and neighbors in their village. The main character in this film is Tevye. Tevye is a poor man that works hard to support his family and he seems to look at things from both sides when he is confused or debating. Tevye often looks up in the sky towards god for help or answers to his problems. In the beginning of the film we see Tevye working and a Fiddler playing on a roof and that leads to the opening scenes of the film. Tevye has five daughters, three that are old enough to get married; they are Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava. Tevye is a man of tradition and does everything by the book. In this film we see him changing his ways by questioning his own ways of thinking and allowing his daughters to choose their husbands. In those days the father must approve or choose the husband for his daughter before the couple could wed. This movie shows many different conflicts in it. One conflict in particular was when Tevye told Lazar Wolf that he could marry his daughter Tzeitel. Then when Tevye tells his daughter about this she is very disappointed and refuses to marry Lazar, because she is in love with Motel. Tevye then breaks his agreement with Lazar and give Motel his blessing and approval to marry Tzeitel. Lazar his very upset that Tevye broke there agreement because they were good friends and he trusted him. This conflict continues at Motel and Tzeitel’s wedding night. Lazar offers the two five chicken as a gift and starts to complain to Tevye. On this wedding night we see a change in tradition when Perchik has all the men dance with the women. This has never done before. At this point in the film everyone is dancing and celebrating. The constable and his men destroy the wedding to send the villager a message that they must move because the Russian’s want the Jewish people to move so they can take over their lands and homes. Hodel wants to marry Perchik and they ask for Tevye’s approval and he refuses at first and then they tell Tevye that they are not asking for his approval they are just asking for his blessing. They tell him regardless of what he says they will still marry. Once again, Tevye has to choose between his customary ways and his daughter Hodel’s happiness. Tevye chooses to give his approval and blessing to his daughter and Perchik to wed even though Perchik is not rich or has anything to offer to his daughter but love. Hodel and Perchik wed and Perchik leaves for a while and then Hodel leaves to be with her husband many miles away from her family that she may never see again. At the end of the film his third daughter Chava wants to marry Fyedka and no matter what they both tell him he will not approve this marriage. He even tells his daughter that he will disown her if she stays with him. A few days later the two are nowhere to be found and Tevye tells Golde that his daughter Chava is dead to them she does not exists. At the end of this film all of the villagers are moving to different places of the world and leaving there home land. Tevye is saying goodbye to Tzeitel and Motel and wishing them happiness in Warsaw until they can move to America. Chava comes to see her family before they leave and Tevye is not even acknowledging his daughters existence and she is begging for him to speak. Tevye says nothing, but when she is leaving she whispers “god be with you!” and Tzeitel hears him and shouts it out to Chava when she is leaving. Finally Tevye his wife and their two young daughters are leaving their village to seek a new one and the fiddler is following them and playing at the same time. This gives Tevye a sense of hope and happiness for his future.

The main instrument that is heard is the film is a fiddle which is a violin. The music in this film is played before a song starts to give you a heads up that a musical piece is about to begin. Some of the songs in this film are very well known such as “If I were a Rich Man” and “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”. Most of the music heard in the film is very moderate and slow, but there are some that are fast. Almost every time someone is singing a song the person starts off with just talking the lyrics and then gradually sings the lyrics. Some of the characters in the film fit the role that they play but do not seem that they would be able sing the songs that they are doing. There is a song that has a great deal of importance to the film and that is “Tradition” this song we hear throughout the film. When “tradition” is playing in the beginning of the film we see the people and their traditions in the town of Anetevka through the eyes of Tevye. The villager’s traditions are very important to them and they never forget what it means to them. The music in this film is very well textured. The music is adapted and conducted by John Williams and is very brilliant.

This film was put together as a film very well. All of the characters are very important to the film and make the film very powerful. Topol, the man that played Tevye in the film does a wonderful job capturing the characters love for his daughters and his tradition. Even though the Film is called “Fiddler on the Roof” The fiddler is not seen that much but is heard at many times in the film just to let us know that he his around. The way this film was put together is great because it is very difficult to take a staged production and turn it into a film and make it just as good.

There was many dance scenes in this film. When a dance number was shown the people were either celebrating a wedding or just dancing around because they were happy and just felt like it. Not all of the music numbers had dancing in them but most of them had some movement even if it was brief. Dancing in this film was used to show the peoples tradition, especially during the Wedding scene of Tzeitel and Motel. All of the men were dancing with each other and suddenly that changed into the men dancing with the women, which was a change in tradition that you can see.

The production elements in this film helped the film become more enjoyable and believable by the setting of the film and the costume designs. The costumes in the film were very well deigned for the actor’s role that they played. The costumes brought out the characters role and made you know what social class a character was from. An example of this is the constable, who wore a uniform and anyone could tell that he was not from Anatevka just by they way he was dressed.

I enjoyed this film because it had a cast of people that made this film very interesting and fun to watch. I could tell that the director took his time choosing the people for their roles and made sure that they were the right person for the job. Topol for example fit his role of Tevye so naturally and made me pay more attention when he was doing a scene. It was good to see a movie were a character actually thought things out and look at both sides to everything. Most films the character is one sided. This film had to be so difficult to make especially when it was originated from a stage production. I was very fascinated with the musical pieces in the film as well. I think that this film was very well developed and was a brilliant make from stage to motion picture. I also thought that it was very smart not to show the fiddler that much during the movie but at times you could hear him from a distance playing his fiddle. I thought that overall this movie musical was very well made and is a brilliant work of art.

There were not too many things about this movie musical. I enjoyed almost everything. The only things I would change is the length of the film and I believe that there are point in the film were it sort of dragged on. As an example the part where Tevye explained to Golde that he had a dream where Motel and Tzeitel were to get married not Tzeitel and the Lazar Wolf. Those are the only thing I disliked about the film. Overall I would recommend this film for other to watch because it shows culture and the way people lived.

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