It's really heating up in Prishtina, and what this often means for me is sitting inside with some good people and watching a good movie. I began my Top 5 list of movies to watch when it's too hot to go outside two weeks ago (number 5 can be read here, and number 4 here). This week I bring you film number 3.
No. 3: "Fiddler on the Roof" (Norman Jewison, 1971, USA)
Tradition! One of the strongest themes of the film, this musical quickly became a favourite of mine, despite my general dislike for singing and dancing films. The winner of three Oscars in 1972 (and nominated for four others), Fiddler on the Roof is a movie about family, love, wealth, and above all, tradition. Following the success of the 1969 Broadway musical which it was adapted from, this film remains a movie musical classic.
Once you get through the (relatively long for today's standards) opening sequence of a fiddler playing on a roof, the film introduces us to Tevye (played by Topol) a poor Jewish milkman who also happens to be the father of (oh the horror!) five daughters in 1905 Russia. He addresses the audience directly, telling us about life in their village Anatevka and about how the Jews there have managed to maintain some stability by holding on to traditions passed on to them. Keeping up with these traditions Tevye and his nosy but well meaning wife Golde (Norma Crane) decide it's time to marry off their daughters through the help of a matchmaker. But of course, things don't always go according to plan.
The matchmaker arranges a match for Tzeitel (the eldest daughter played by Rosalind Harris) to Lazar Wolf (Paul Mann) a wealthy and kind butcher, who also happens to be her father's age. Tzeitel confronts her father about this, claiming that she will not marry him because she loves her childhood sweetheart Motel Kamzoil (Leonard Frey) the tailor. With much hesitation of breaking a verbal contract with the butcher, Tevye allows his daughter to marry Motel for "love", voicing his concern about how the traditions for marriage are starting to change, and questioning whether they should or not.
Following in their eldest sister's footsteps, each of the following two daughters eventually begin to pursue relationships outside of what is considered "proper" and custom. The second eldest daughter Hodel (Michele Marsh) begins to pursue her Marxist tutor Perchik (Paul Michael Glaser), and the third daughter Chava (Neva Small) begins an absolutely forbidden relationship with a young Russian man Fyedka (Ray Lovelock). On top of this, the political situation in Russia is putting pressure on Jews across the country to leave their villages permanently.
Through the use of catchy songs like "If I Was a Rich Man" and "Matchmaker", amazing acting by practically all of the very large cast, and yes even occasionally through dance, Norman Jewison brings this musical to life on film. It's one of the best movies to watch when you just want to relax indoors and beat the heat.
The article was originally written in English.
Illustration: Dan Voinea
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