Review of Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

Moving picture, 3.0 hours

Seen in 2022.

A clever Jewish peasant in 1905 Russia reluctantly marries off his three eldest daughters while the Tsar plans an eviction.

A popular musical about something so impopular as the dissolution of slow and cyclical agrarian life under the creeping forces of individualism and state-sponsored terror against the poor. The fake snow looks fake indeed on the big studio set and there is plenty of warm humour, but thankfully, the irony in this production isn’t campy. Director Norman Jewison plays a number of tricks, such as placing Tevye far away from the people he’s really speaking to when—in a series of theatrical asides—he speaks to Yahweh in his own mind, but the director does not marginalize or dehumanize the common villager to enhance the drama. Instead, there is a Bergman-esque bedrock of humanism and sincerity to it all. And the beards — the beards are good too.

References here: Children of Dune (1976).

moving picture fiction