Fiddler on the roof is the film that makes me proud to be Jewish; and that’s pretty important, as Judaism is a huge part of my identity, and my life. Some fellow Jewish friends have repeatedly called me “The most Jewish Jewish person they know” – not the most religious, just the most Jewish – and I take that as a huge compliment. In the same way, I find this film to be the most “Jewish” film, as no film encapsulates the charisma and passion of the Jewish people better. Because of this, every time I watch it, I feel an overwhelming sense of both pride and joy, or ‘nachas’, if we’re getting technical and bringing Yiddish into it.
It may seem odd that I have a musical movie as my 2nd favourite films of all time, as these types of films, particularly stage-to-screen adaptations, can get a lot of flack from film reviewers, and more often than not, tend to be a shell of the original. But not Fiddler.
I’m listening to the iconic soundtrack as I write this, and I think that may have been a mistake, as all I want to do is shout out “yananainai” at the top of my lungs.
Watching Chaim Topol perform as Tevye, commanding the screen, being such an incredible presence, oozing chutzpah in every frame, that performance is what made me get into theatre as a kid, and kept me going onto drama school as a young adult. But Topol isn’t the only iconic performer in this film; in the credits are Norma Crane, Rosalind Harris, Leonard Frey, and of course Molly Picon as the legendary Yente – the entire ensemble works together to create one of the best films of the 70’s, and one of the best musical adaptations of all time.
The long and short of it; I love this film. The only reason it’s not number one is because there are some glaring errors in the film; there are some hammy performances, some clumsy dancing, some rather outdated ideals, the unnecessarily terrifying “dream” sequence – and other things I could sit and pick apart, but I don’t want to – because as I said, and will say again, I love this film.