Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Cinema Shame: Fiddler on the Roof (1971)



Fiddler on the Roof (1971) was always one of those classic musicals that I've meant to see but I never got around to. When the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival schedule was announced, I saw the film was part of their Sunday morning line-up. And the director Norman Jewison, who has directed some of my absolute favorite films, was going to be in attendance at the screening. TCMFF is the best venue to experience a film for the first time. Unfortunately it didn't happen. When Sunday morning rolled around, I was very sick from the physical effects of social anxiety. I've since gotten over that and can attend the festivals with no problems.

Fast forward to the 2016 TCM festival when I got to meet film researcher Lillian Michelson on the red carpet. She was there with director Daniel Raim and producer Jennifer Raim to screen their documentary Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story. This is a documentary I've been championing ever since I watched it in November of 2015. In the film, Lillian discusses how she did research for Fiddler on the Roof and she met with Jewish ladies "of a certain age" at a deli and asked what young girls wore for undergarments. One of the ladies fetched her a pattern and the end result was period-specific undergarments, with scalloping on the bottom, in the Matchmaker musical number.





In my brief red carpet interview with Lillian Michelson (which you can watch here), I asked her which of the films she worked on was her favorite. And her answer was Fiddler on the Roof. Her research went beyond just the clothing so when you see the film you know the specifics are as true to turn-of-the-century Russia as possible. Also for Lillian this helped connect her to her familial roots.

Fast forward to 2018 and I was heading back to California for my sixth TCM festival. I was scheduled to have a lunch with Lillian, Daniel and Jennifer and I knew I had to watch Fiddler before I got there. The film on briefly came up in conversation but I was glad that I finally got to see that film that meant so much to Lillian, and to the Raims too!

I really connected with Fiddler. Even though I was raised Protestant and I don't know what it feels like to deal with Anti-Semitism, I connected with the story about family, about marrying for love, going against ingrained cultural norms and the disconnect between generations. The movie is over 3 hours long but it didn't feel it. The plot and the pacing are perfect and I was swept into this family saga and stayed engaged the whole time. I can see how it became a beloved musical. I would watch Fiddler again in a heartbeat.



Fiddler on the Roof (1971) is the third of eight films that I am watching for the 2018 Cinema Shame challenge. Check out my original list and stay tuned for more reviews!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave me a comment! If it is a long one, make sure you save a draft of it elsewhere just in case Google gobbles it up and spits it out.

Popular Posts

 Twitter   Instagram   Facebook     Google+