Discs Are Rated
Fiddler On The Roof
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 179 minutes
Starring Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Molly
Picon, Paul Mann
Screenplay by Joseph Stein
adapted from his stage play
Adapted for the screen by Tom Abbot
Based on the stage play "Fiddler On The Rof" adapted from
Stories by Special Arrangement by Arnold Perl
Music by Jerome Robbins
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Directed by Norman Jewison
Retail Price: $19.98
Features: Audio Commentary with Director/Producer
Norman Jewison, Theatrical Trailer, Collectible Booklet
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 5.1 Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Closed
Captions, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish
Subtitles, Scene Selections
Ah, "Fiddler On The Roof." Where to begin? Being of the
Jewish faith, I suppose this musical does hit pretty close
to me. When I was a wee lad, I saw it on broadway and
couldn't sit since I was so young. However, my "Fiddler"
madness didn't end there. At an old school of mine, it was
the annual play and my sister was in it, since that year her
grade did the annual play. So I sat through the movie when
she rented it, heard the songs over and over and blah. Not
to mention sitting through her performance three times over.
Still, I like "Fiddler On The Roof." A lot of the values and
ethics in this movie I can relate to, probably since I grew
up in a Jewish household and studied Hebrew for all those
years. Still, if you're not Jewish, there's plenty to enjoy
here as "Fiddler On The Roof" is one fine musical, and a
great film to boot.
The classic story, based on the tales of Sholom Aleichem,
is all about the wise, great-natured Tevye, who is a poor
milkman in his Jewish village in Russia. Tevye is a kind and
loving man, who loves his wife and his daughters. However,
Tevye is at an important stage in his life. It's
pre-revolution in Russia, and he has to come to terms with
his changing lifestyle. His daughters are growing and
looking for love, the pre-revolution and of course, other
ties that bond into his family. Believe it or not (well, you
should know) all of this works in a fine musical of morals,
meaning, great character and emotion. There's a never a dull
moment. It's three hours long, but it always feels far less
than that to me... and I have trouble sitting for long
There's no surprise why this movie was nominated for
eight Academy Awards®, it's just really good and well
made. Truly one of the greatest musical movie adaptions
ever. As I said, this movie goes really quick for me. Every
scene in this is necessary and the dialogue just flows well
and sounds great, all from Joseph Stein. There's just this
great knack to it and it really comes to be an incredible
and very enjoyable story.
This musical is quite memorable as far as songs go. Yes
with my sister I heard 'em all dozens of times, but the
tunes are rather catchy and sound traditional. They just fit
really well and come up at the right times. From the grand
opening "Tradition" to "Matchmaker" to "Sunrise, Sunset"
there's simply a greatness to them that can't be denied.
They have messages and go with what's going on. The lyrics
go well too and it's just a fine fit for it all. Really
memorable tunes in all of this.
The performances here are great, especially the Academy
Award® nominated Topol as Tevye. Topol is just a great
fit for the role as he really brings the character to full
life. The strength, the happiness and the conflicting
emotions. I don't know why, but Topol just has this real
strong presence on the screen that's such a joy to watch.
He's brilliant in this role as he really does capture
everything in the role. He makes it feel and seem so real.
Truly an impressive performance. The supporting cast is also
good and play off Topol well. The singing voices are great
Still, I think the real star of all of this is Norman
Jewison. His directing skills, which have always been strong
as he's done great films, but here he really creates a
fantastic movie here. The way he conveys and sets up his
shots as he captures the characters actions and feelings as
we're viewing it all through our eyes. The editing and
pacing is also fantastic. His wide and long shots are
marvelous. I really just love his style and how it works in
all of it. I wish this movie won the Oscar® for his
direction, but it did win for cinematography.
"Fiddler On The Roof" is one fine musical, as there is
such richness in its characters and stories. Great acting,
directing and adaptation all around, if you haven't seen
this movie, what are you waiting for?
MGM has delivered a great 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen
transfer of the film, and it looks glorious. It's the best
shape I've ever seen the film in and is sure to please.
However, it's not perfect. Contrast seems to be a bit high,
while a good deal of shimmering and noise is present.
There's also a decent amount of grain, dirt, blemishes,
nicks and scratches on this print (especially in chapter 2).
Still, they're not too distracting. Sometimes the image can
be a bit soft. Jewison's amazing vision and shots look
really lovely and are fantastic on this disc. Colors are
well saturated, while fleshtones and hues are pretty good as
well. Throw in some great scenery, backgrounds and
locations, good shadow detail, good general detail and fine
black levels and you have yourself one terrific transfer.
The best looking version of "Fiddler," all right here!
Though I wish it was cleaned up a bit more.
We have an English 5.1 Dolby Digital track on this
release and since this is a musical and its musical presence
is very strong. Surrounds here come in all shapes and sizes.
Whether its horses neighing, water being splashed or
dancing, but obviously, most of the surrounds come from the
music. Since this movie is thirty years old, it's not as
strong as it is remixed, but it really gets the job done and
sounds perfectly fine for what it is - especially with the
age as that is impressive. .1 LFE is decent, but you do feel
like you're in the world of Tevye with this 5.1 track. Good
sound activity all around. Dialogue is clear and easy to
hear and nothing overpowers it. English subtitles, Spanish
subtitles and French subtitles are on the disc, plus English
closed captioning. There's also a French Dolby Surround
We have an Audio Commentary with Norman Jewison and
Topol that is rather good. Yes there are moments of long
pauses which are really annoying, but there's good
information to absorb from all of this. Jewison offers a lot
of praise for the cast and crew while talking about how he
set things up and what he wanted. Topol's comments are more
spares but when he's heard he says good things. This track
can be a bit slow at times due to the annoying pauses, but
if you have the patience there's good things in this. Also
included is the Theatrical Trailer in non-anamorphic
widescreen and a Collectible Booklet inside.
A great musical with a very good presentation and a good
commentary. However, I would hold off for the upcoming
(4.5/5 - NOT included in
NOT an average)