The Fiddler on the Roof

I don’t often review movies but I’ve been preoccupied with thoughts of The Fiddler on the Roof since I saw it for the first time last night.  The movie is timeless partly because it is fully in its own time and place; it’s a conscious examination of the human experience there so we can think about its parallels to the rest of life.  Each song powerfully captures the tension felt by the characters.  Seeing multiple sides of tensions is, in fact, one of the strongest points of the movie as symbolized by the main character’s onscreen broodings portrayed as a series of “on the other hand”s.

The Fiddler on the Roof does seem to sacrifice a bit of formal artistry to capture the culture so well.  The song lyrics often sacrificed being lyrical to being emotively provocative.  And my AP English Language mind really wanted to see the Fiddler theme come more full circle as a metaphor for the village (maybe it does, but I haven’t been able to figure out how, and the movie makes the initial metaphor explicit by addressing it to the camera directly).  The movie even went (mostly) without an overarching thesis or position on the subjects it addressed, preferring instead to simply show the changes happening in the village over time and their initial difficulties without showing how the new marriage forms worked in the long term.  The film’s lack of a strong position on these issues was seen in the main character’s repeated meme “what could I do” as he accented to a number of changes.  If anything, the theme of the movie is ‘life is hard, traditions are hard to keep, and change is tough’.

I highly recommend it.  Listen to the lyrics, think about the themes.  And I am really nostalgic for school where we would have a Lyceum, or Salon, or some other pedantic but fun word for discussion.

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