Fiddler on the Roof (film)

Fiddler on the Roof (film)

Infobox Film
name = Fiddler on the Roof

caption = Theatrical release poster
director = Norman Jewison
producer = Norman Jewison
writer = Joseph Stein
starring = Chaim Topol
Norma Crane
Leonard Frey
Molly Picon
music = Jerry Bock
cinematography = Oswald Morris, BSC
editing = Antony Gibbs
Robert Lawrence
distributor = United Artists
released = November 3, 1971
runtime = 181 min.
country = flagicon|USA
language = English
budget = $9 million
gross = $50 million
website =
amg_id = 1:17111
imdb_id = 0067093

"Fiddler on the Roof" is the 1971 film version of the Broadway musical of the same name. It was directed by Norman Jewison. The film won three Academy Awards, including one for arranger-conductor John Williams. It was nominated for several more, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Chaim Topol as Tevye, and Best Supporting Actor for Leonard Frey, who played Motel the Tailor (both had originally acted in the musical; Topol as Tevye in the London production and Frey in a minor part as the rabbi's son). The decision to cast Topol as Tevye instead of Zero Mostel was a somewhat controversial one, as the role had originated with Mostel and he had made it famous.

Recording was done at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. Most of the exterior shots were done in Croatia: in Mala Gorica, Lekenik, and Zagreb.

The film follows the plot of the stage play very closely, although it omits the songs "Now I Have Everything" and "The Rumor". It takes place in the Jewish village of Anatevka in Tsarist Russia in 1905 and centers on the character of Tevye, a poor milkman, and his daughters' marriages. As Tevye says in the introductory narration, the Jews have relied upon their traditions to maintain the stability of their way of life for centuries; but as times change, that stability is threatened on the small scale by Tevye's daughters' wishes to marry men not chosen in the traditional way by the matchmaker, and on the large scale by pogroms and revolution in Russia.

Principal Cast Listed in the Closing Credits

*Chaim Topol as Tevye
*Norma Crane as Golde
*Leonard Frey as Motel Kamzoil
*Molly Picon as Yente
*Paul Mann as Lazar Wolf
*Rosalind Harris as Tzeitel
*Michele Marsh as Hodel
*Neva Small as Chava
*Paul Michael Glaser as Perchik
*Ray Lovelock as Fyedka
*Elaine Edwards as Shprintze
*Candy Bonstein as Bielke
*Shimen Ruskin as Mordcha
*Zvee Scooler as the rabbi
*Louis Zorich as the constable
*Alfie Scopp as Avram
*Howard Goorney as Nachum
*Barry Dennen as Mendel
*Vernon Dobtcheff as Russian official
*Ruth Madoc as Fruma Sarah
*Patience Collier as Grandma Tzeitel
* [ Tutte Lemkow] as the Fiddler (whose playing was overdubbed by Isaac Stern)


The film centers on the family of Tevye, a Jewish milkman in the village of Anatevka (probably in the Pale of Settlement) in Tsarist Russia. Tevye breaks the fourth wall by talking at times directly to the audience or to the heavens (to God) for the audience's benefit. Much of the story is also told in musical form.

Tevye is terribly poor despite working hard, as are most of the Jews in Anatevka. He and his wife, Golde, have five daughters, which is another burden for Tevye to shoulder (as he cannot afford a dowry to marry them off). Life in the shtetl of Anatevka is very hard and Tevye speaks not only of the difficulties of being poor but also of the Jewish community's constant fear of harassment from their non-Jewish neighbors.

The film begins with Tevye explaining to the audience that what keeps the Jews of Anatevka going is the balance they achieve through obedience to their ancient traditions. He also explains that the lot of the Jews in Russia is as precarious as a fiddler on a roof: trying to eke out a pleasant tune while not breaking their necks. The fiddler appears throughout the film as a metaphoric reminder of the Jews' ever-present fears and danger. While in town, Tevye meets Perchik, a student with modern religious and political ideas (he is clearly a Marxist). Tevye invites Perchik to live with him and his family in exchange for Perchick tutoring his daughters.

Through Yente the matchmaker, Tevye arranges for his oldest daughter, Tzeitel, to marry the only wealthy Jewish man in Anatevka, Lazar Wolf the butcher. However, Tzeitel is in love with her childhood sweetheart, Motel the tailor, and begs her father not to make her marry the much older butcher. Tevye reluctantly agrees and, despite the humiliation suffered by Lazar Wolf, Tzeitel and Motel arrange to be married. At the wedding, an argument breaks out between the guests over whether a girl should be able to choose her own husband. Perchik addresses the crowd and says that since they love each other it should be left for the couple to decide. He creates further controversy when he asks Tevye's daughter Hodel to dance with him, crossing the barrier between the men and women. Eventually, the crowd warms up to the idea and the wedding proceeds with great joy. Suddenly, a mob of local peasants arrive and begin a pogrom, attacking the Jews and their property.

Later, as Perchik prepares to leave Anatevka to work for the revolution, he tells Hodel that he loves her, and she agrees to marry him. When they tell Tevye, he is furious that they have decided to marry without his permission, and with Perchik leaving Anatevka, but he eventually relents because they love each other. Weeks later, when Perchik is arrested in Kiev and exiled to Siberia, Hodel decides to travel to join him there.

Meanwhile, Tevye's third daughter, Chava, has been flirting with a young Russian man, Fyedka, and eventually works up the courage to ask Tevye to allow her to marry him. In a soliloquy, Tevye concludes that while he could accept his older daughters' choosing their own husbands, he cannot countenance Chava marrying a non-Jew, in effect abandoning the Jewish faith, and forbids her to associate with him, but she elopes with him and marries in a Russian Orthodox Church.

Finally, the Jews of Anatevka are notified that the Russian government will force the Jews to leave the village; they have three days to pack up and leave. Tevye and his family and friends begin packing up to leave, heading variously for New York, Chicago, Palestine, and other places they know nothing about. Just before the credits, Tevye spots the fiddler and motions to him to come along. The film ends with a long, slow shot of the Jews walking out of their former village at sunset.


The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) in 1972. It also won the Academy Award for Best Original Score.

External links

* [ Official site]
*ibdb show|id=3513|title=Fiddler on the Roof
*imdb title|id=0067093|title=Fiddler on the Roof
*amg title|id=1:17111|title=Fiddler on the Roof
*tcmdb title|id=22940|title=Fiddler on the Roof

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