Again, I’m having difficulty. There are so many movies I could write pages and pages about but I am forced to choose just one, and I can’t help myself but to go for a musical.
A family favourite for many years, Fiddler on the Roof is a film I absolutely adore. For those not familiar with the story, Fiddler tells the tale of a Jewish family living in a small town called Anatevka, in Russia in 1905. The main protagonist is Tevye, a poor milkman and head of the family, who is a proud and loving father but laments the fact that he has five daughters and no sons. Throughout the film (which is based very closely on the Broadway musical of the same name), the family face their own personal problems with the engagements of the three eldest daughters, as well as the trials faced by all the Jewish residents of Anatevka.
Despite some quite saddening underlying themes and plotlines, Fiddler is a beautiful story of family, love and loyalty. There are two aspects in particular, however, that make me love it more than anything.
The first of these is the wonderful characters that emerge in the story – beginning with Tevye himself, played by Chaim Topol. In the film adaptation, Tevye frequently addresses the audience directly, and has such a cheeky nature, quick sense of humour and brilliant one-liners that you can’t help but like him, but also demonstrates great affection for his family, commitment to his faith, and strength and courage in the face of adversity. Other smaller roles are just as entertaining, however. One such example is the matchmaker, Yente. A frail old woman, Yente’s role in the neighbourhood is to arrange the community’s marriages – but this doesn’t always go as planned.
The other thing I absolutely adore about Fiddler is – yes, you guessed it – the soundtrack. Of all the muscials I have been exposed to, the songs from Fiddler on the Roof are amongst those that have had the most lasting impact. In particular, the song Sunrise, Sunset has been a favourite amongst my family for a long time. This song takes place at the wedding of Tevye’s eldest daughter, Tzeitel, and is sung by various members of the family, but begins with Tevye and his wife Golde pondering how quickly their children seem to have grown up and become adults in their own right. It is a beautiful song. If you haven’t heard it, I recommend you listen. I will post a link below.
Many may also be familiar with the song If I Were A Rich Man, in which Tevye sings about all the things he would do if he had “a small fortune”. His humour is particularly evident in this song too.
Dear God, you made many, many poor people.
I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor.
But it’s no great honor either!
So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?
I could quite literally go on about this wonderful film all day, but I’ll wrap it up here. Needless to say, if you haven’t seen Fiddler on the Roof, I certainly suggest it. Even if you’re not into musicals, the beautiful characters and storyline are worth it.