Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
March 7, 2020 4:05 PM - Subscribe

This lavishly produced and critically acclaimed screen adaptation of the international stage sensation tells the life-affirming story of Tevye (Topol), a poor milkman whose love, pride and faith help him face the oppression of turn-of-the-century Czarist Russia. Nominated for eight Academy Awards.
posted by Pendragon (13 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is Topol's movie. Everyone else is pretty great, but he really pulls off Tevye.

And Isaac Stern playing the violin. Mmm.
posted by Fukiyama at 6:27 PM on March 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I always wondered why Zero Mostel didn't get the film role. Apparently Norman Jewison thought his performances were "too big" for film, his broad acting more suited to the stage. He also might've played Tevye longer on Broadway had he stuck to the script more.

I was lucky to see Topol on stage in the role in 2009. He was 74 and still lively!
posted by rikschell at 7:52 PM on March 7, 2020

I wore out my VHS copy of this movie as a kid. I also had a French-dubbed copy taped off Canadian TV, and learned z lot of vocabulary from it since I had already memorized all the English dialog. I remember feeling like they did really well casting the French voices.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:07 PM on March 7, 2020

Fiddler on the Roof is streaming via Amazon Prime in the US.
posted by Etrigan at 5:08 AM on March 8, 2020

The thing about Topol is he is funny and he sings and dances, but he also has the gravitas when needed to really pull off Tevye-as-long-suffering-peasant.
posted by Fukiyama at 9:52 AM on March 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

I didn't care much for musicals as a kid, but this was the first one I really came to love.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:35 AM on March 8, 2020

Fiddler, Tevye's Daughters, and Me, July 23, 2019. Elaine Showalter gives a personal account of the impact of the original stage production and recollects her own choices.
"But when I see Fiddler, I don’t identify with Tevye. I identify with his three daughters, who one by one insist on marrying the men they love... While Tevye comes to accept the husbands of Tzeitel and Hodel, he can’t accept Fyedka or condone Chava’s choice. For me, the heart of the show is the scene when Tevye... turns his back on his daughter, and sends her away."

Sholem Aleichem (Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich), author of Tevye's Daughters: Collected Stories of Sholom Aleichem and other stories about Tevye the dairyman, the basis for the play Fiddler on the Roof.

What happened to the younger daughters, Shprintze and Bielka? No simple endings here, but no simple endings for the original stories, either.

What always gets me is that while Tevye and Golde immigrate to New York City with the two younger daughters, the older siblings stay behind and face their fates: in Warsaw (Tsiedel and Motel), in Krakow (Chava and Fyedka), and in Siberia (Hodel and Perchik).
posted by TrishaU at 5:58 PM on March 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

Tzeitel -- Sarah (princess), the second name of Abraham's wife.
Hodel -- Hadassah (myrtle tree), the Hebrew name of Queen Esther.
Chava -- Eve (life), in Genesis, the first woman.
Shprintze -- Esperanza (hope), Spanish form of the word hope.
Bielka -- Bielke, Beylke, Beyle, Baila, Bela (white), Slavic word meaning white.

Tevye and Golde have two other children, Taybele and another daughter, but they are only mentioned briefly in the original stories, and the 1968 Israeli movie version.
posted by TrishaU at 6:41 PM on March 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

"For me, the heart of the show is the scene when Tevye... turns his back on his daughter, and sends her away."

That devastates me every time. It complicates Tevye for the audience—although I suppose part of the audience may agree with him drawing the line there. But for me it's so disappointing.

Although I do have to say that I always felt it was totally weird that she married Detective Starsky.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:59 AM on March 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

A lot of these comments are addressed in the new documentary ‘Fiddler: A Miracle or Miracles’ which features animation from Mefi’s own tessmartin.
posted by bq at 11:33 AM on March 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

I always wondered why Zero Mostel didn't get the film role...

Also there's this line in the Wikipedia page for Topol: "Jewison flew to London in February 1968 to see Topol perform as Tevye during his last week with the London production, and chose him over Danny Kaye, Herschel Bernardi, Rod Steiger, Danny Thomas, Walter Matthau, Richard Burton, and Frank Sinatra, who had also expressed interest in the part."

Frank Sinatra????? ROFLMAO.
posted by dnash at 12:57 PM on March 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to pop in and mention I love the guy who keeps making puns and saying "Well put!" about his own puns.
posted by sugar and confetti at 12:59 PM on March 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

I always thought of my parents as High Holidays Jews and resisted seeing this movie for the longest time. After finally seeing it, I realized that they're Fiddler on the Roof Jews.
posted by kokaku at 6:41 AM on March 10, 2020

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