Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof Poster

We watched another musical last night. This time it was “Fiddler on the Roof” on Netflix. The movie stars Topol, Norma Crane and Leonard Frey. It was released in 1971 following the successful run on Broadway.

The film is a bit on the long side (3 hours). We watched act I on the first night and Act II on the second night.

This is the story of Tevke, a poor Jewish man who lives in a small house in the town of Anatevka in pre-revolutionary Russia. Tevke lives with his wife of 25 years and his five adult daughters. Here is the storyline from IMDB.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Jews and Orthodox Christians live in the little village of Anatevka in the pre-revolutionary Russia of the Czars. Among the traditions of the Jewish community, the matchmaker arranges the match and the father approves it. The milkman Reb Tevye is a poor man that has been married for twenty-five years with Golde and they have five daughters. When the local matchmaker Yente arranges the match between his older daughter Tzeitel and the old widow butcher Lazar Wolf, Tevye agrees with the wedding. However Tzeitel is in love with the poor tailor Motel Kamzoil and they ask permission to Tevye to get married that he accepts to please his daughter. Then his second daughter Hodel (Michele Marsh) and the revolutionary student Perchik decide to marry each other and Tevye is forced to accept. When Perchik is arrested by the Czar troops and sent to Siberia, Hodel decides to leave her family and homeland and travel to Siberia to be with her beloved Perchik….

So why is Tevke playing his fiddle up on the roof of his house. It is not exactly explained, but my idea is that where else is Tevke going to get some peace and quiet in a house (a small house, at that) of a wife and 5 adult daughters.

So the music was written by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Hamock. The 1971 film won 3 Oscars (Best Cinematography, Best Sound and Best Music). The original Broadway Production ran for a record setting 3,642 shows starting in 1964. Click here for the complete Wikipedia article. That Broadway run was finally broken by Grease.


In the end all of the Jews of Anetvka are told to sell there homes and get out. The small community is broken up. They all go off in different directions. Some to New York, Some to Chicago, Some to Jerusalem. A very sad ending but one feels the hope of starting a new era.

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