DVD Review: Fiddler On The Roof Collector’s Edition

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Whether seen on large screen or small, Fiddler On the Roof’s engaging musically enhanced storytelling is an all embracing exhilarating experience.

Adapted from the stage play based on the wonderful short stories of Sholom Aleichem, the film recounts the life and times of Tevye (played by Topol), a Russian Jewish peasant milkman who’s trying to keep his family together and preserve Jewish traditions against the background of anti-Semitism and changing political environment of pre-revolutionary Russia.

After energetically expressing his goals in the rousing musical opener, “Tradition,“ Tevye sets about trying to arrange marriages for his three daughters, who are intent upon escaping his matches in order to marry for love.

The story is engaging, the music extraordinary– with beloved songs such as “Sunrise, Sunset” and “If I Were a Rich Man” underscoring important moments in the story and spurring it forward.

The fiddling referred to in the film’s title is provided by none other than the brilliant Isaac Stern, and it’s splendid. The film won 1971’s Oscars for scoring and sound– as well as for cinematography.

The Collector’s Edition, a 2-disc set, comes through admirably with the film’s brilliant images and audio.

Additionally, Disc One features an informative and entertaining behind the scenes commentary by Director/Producer Norman Jewison and Topol. Disc Two presents deleted scenes and a deleted song (“Any Day Now”), as well as a documentary about Norman Jewison and commentary about difficulties making the film in Yugoslavia, stories of Sholom Alecheim read by Jewison, an interesting interview with John Williams about the music, cast member interviews, a feature on production design and storyboards, the theatrical trailer, a historical backgrounder with photos by Ann Weiss, interesting material about the songs of Fiddler and the songs of Sholom Aleichem and other extras that enhance the viewing experence.

This is one you’ll want to have in your DVD library.

Jennifer Merin

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).