I’m actually a bit shocked that I have only just now seen The Fiddler on the Roof for the first time. From what my mother told me, I should have gathered that it didn’t actually have much to do with fiddling or roofs, but I still felt a tad cheated.
Though don’t worry, there is a fiddler who is first seen fiddling on a roof. He’s not really there as a character, but as a symbol of tradition, which is one of the main themes of the story. It is about a very traditional and poor Jewish town which has operated in the same way for years and years in a habitual and slightly unsteady way that is compared to a man fiddling on the roof. You do what you can to get by and hope you don’t fall and break your neck.
And yes the fiddler continues as a motif throughout the movie in cheering the main character, Tevye, a poor man with a wife and five daughters, in times of desperation. And only Teyve can see the fiddler, so it’s also a bit trippy and metaphorical, as if it’s only his imagination embodied as a man.
But anyway, the story.
Well, basically, it’s set in a very traditional town with arranged marriages and whatnot. So Tevye’s trying to marry off his three eldest daughters to anyone with money (as they are a very poor family), but then the girls start having radical ideas about… marrying for love.
See, this was in a transitional period when change and new, radical ideas were sweeping through Russia (where the town is). And now the girls all want to marry guys they love and Tevye wants them to be happy, but needs to stick with tradition and the way of his people.
Also there’s action, because the dude the middle daughter likes (the dude’s name is Perchik, and he’s awesome) is sorta kinda the leader of a small russian revolution…
I almost died when that was revealed. He was standing in a town square talking to all these russians and he starts his address “the time is near…”
and I sorta mumble to myself “so near, it’s stirring the blood in their veins…”
also the popo came and started breaking up the protest all violently and Perchik (who was also wearing a red scarf and carrying a giant red flag) luckily didn’t die and just had to jump countries.
Just. Wow. He’s my favorite. I’ll probably give him a post, because he’s that cool.
But anyway there is a ton of wit, and singing and Jewishness and mavel tov‘s and feels and action. It’s seriously good. I can’t even function.
Did I also mention that it’s three hours long?