Fiddler on the Roof


3h 1971
Fiddler on the Roof

Brief Synopsis

In Russia before the revolution, a Jewish milkman tries to marry off his daughters who have plans of their own.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Musical
Music
Adaptation
Release Date
Nov 1971
Premiere Information
Amsterdam opening: 21 Oct 1971; New York opening: 3 Nov 1971; Los Angeles opening: 5 Nov 1971
Production Company
Cartier Productions, Inc.; Mirisch Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
Great Britain, Yugoslavia, and United States
Location
Lekenik,Yugoslavia; London, England, Great Britain; London, Engladn, Great Britain; Mala Gorica,Yugoslavia; Zagreb,Yugoslavia
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical Fiddler on the Roof , book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick (New York, 22 Sep 1964), which was based on the stories of Sholem Aleichem.

Technical Specs

Duration
3h
Sound
70 mm 6-Track, Stereo
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In 1905, poor Jewish milkman Tevye struggles to feed his family in the impoverished Russian village of Anatevka. Despite political unrest and anti-Semitism, Tevye maintains his religious traditions and devotion to God, with whom he carries on a constant dialogue. One day, Yente, the village matchmaker, informs Tevye's wife Golde that widower Lazar Wolf, a middle-aged, wealthy butcher, has asked to marry Tzeitel, the oldest of their five daughters. Quick-witted Hodel and bookish Chava, Tevye's second and third daughters, long to be matched, but Tzeitel explains that without a dowry or family connections, they will probably be married to older, unattractive men. Meanwhile, Tevye fantasizes about being rich and, good-humoredly, asks God if being wealthy "would spoil some vast, eternal plan." Later, Tevye learns from his neighbors that Jews living in other areas are being evicted from their homes. As the men spout ineffective curses at the authorities, Perchik, a student from Kiev, approaches, chides them for their inaction and predicts that the rich must soon share their wealth. Upon learning that Perchik teaches for a living, Tevye, who appreciates learned men, offers to pay him food in exchange for lessons for his daughters. At home, Tzeitel urges the timid tailor Motel, the childhood friend with whom she is in love, to ask Tevye for permission to marry her, but he is waiting until he can afford to buy a sewing machine to prove to Tevye that he is worthy. During the Sabbath prayers, Tevye and Golde pray that their daughters will become good wives and mothers. Afterward, sent by Golde, Tevye visits Lazar and their conversation becomes increasingly confused, until Tevye realizes that Lazar wants to marry Tzeitel, not buy his cow. Tevye thinks hard about Lazar's proposal because although Lazar is wealthy, he much older than Tzeitel, but he concludes that Tzeitel would be safe from hunger. After he agrees to the match, the two go out to drink and celebrate with the other Jewish men. Cossacks, moved by their joy, make a toast, and for a short time, Jews and Gentiles dance together. Afterward, as the drunken Tevye heads home, the constable, a bigoted man who nonetheless likes Tevye, warns that his superior has ordered "a little unofficial demonstration" against the Jews in the village. Continuing on his way, Tevye is approached by the Fiddler, a figment of his imagination, who begins to play for him and the two dance, despite Tevye's fears of the impending pogram. The next day, Tevye suffers a hangover and sleeps late, while Perchik teaches Tevye's youngest daughters, Bielke and Schprintze, an unorthodox interpretation of the story of Jacob. When Hodel later confronts him about his "advanced" thinking, Perchik belittles her blind adherence to tradition. He shows her how boys and girls now dance together, but they become tongue-tied upon realizing their mutual attraction. When Tevye revives, he announces Tzeitel's engagement and is surprised when she tearfully begs him to call off the match. Motel and Tzeitel tell Tevye that they have pledged to marry each other, an "unheard of" break with tradition, which insults Tevye, as tradition dictates that the father arrange the marriage. He accuses Motel of being poor, but Motel summons the courage to say that "even a poor tailor deserves some happiness." Impressed, Tevye reconsiders and gives them permission to wed and then wonders how to explain his illogical decision to Golde. Chava is walking alone in the countryside when she is taunted by four Russian boys, until a fifth one, Fyedka, orders them to stop. Like Chava, Fyedka loves books and offers to lend her one of his, so that they can discuss it together. That night, Tevye pretends to awaken from a nightmare, which he then describes vividly to Golde: In his dream, Grandmother Tzeitel tells him that her namesake should marry the tailor. Then Fruma Sarah, Lazar's shrewish deceased wife, emerges from the grave and jealously threatens to strangle Tzeitel in her sleep if she marries Lazar. Disturbed by Tevye's dream, Golde agrees that Tzeitel should marry Motel. Later, the constable is ordered by his superior to carry out the pogroms. During the wedding ceremony of Motel and Tzeitel, Tevye and Golde note how fast the time has gone by. During the following celebration, the villagers start to quarrel over Tzeitel marrying Motel rather than Lazar, but Perchik interrupts and points out that Motel and Tzeitel were in love. Then, taking down the cord separating men from women and thus breaking with tradition, he calls to Hodel to dance with him. Soon, Tevye orders Golde to dance with him and many startled villagers are lured by the joyfulness of the dancing, which is abruptly halted when the constable and his men break up the wedding, and then continue to vandalize other Jewish homes. Tevye orders his distraught family to clean up, but wonders why God has allowed this to happen. However, he does not lose his faith and later reports to Him that Motel and Tzeitel are too happy to "know how miserable they are." Perchik tells Hodel that he must leave for Kiev, where Jews and Gentiles are working together to fight the restrictions of the Tsarist government. Before leaving, he asks her a "political question," which she discovers is his way of proposing to her. She agrees to marry him, but when they announce their intention to Tevye, he refuses his permission. They explain that Perchik plans to send for her when he can, and that they wish his blessing, not his permission. Aghast, Tevye worries that his allowing Tzeitel's unarranged marriage has had bigger consequences. Although to him love is just "a new style," he ponders that once their old ways were new, and realizes that Hodel and Perchik were "matched" by God. He gives both his permission and blessing, but later must try to explain himself to Golde. Remembering back to his own wedding day, when his and Golde's parents said that they would learn to love each other, Tevye asks Golde if she loves him. Although embarrassed, they admit to loving each other and find comfort in the realization. In Kiev, Perchik is arrested for his activism and sent to a Siberian workcamp. When Hodel decides to go to him, Tevye reluctantly walks her to the train stop. There she explains her sadness at leaving home, but feels she must be with Perchik, whose work she compares to that of Abraham, Joseph and Moses. She promises to be married according to their faith and Tevye dryly concedes that probably "a rabbi or two was also arrested." When Motel, now a father, buys his sewing machine, the neighbors come to admire it. Chava tries to broach the subject of Fyedka with Tevye, but he forbids her to speak of the Gentile. Later, Golde learns from the priest that Chava and Fyedka eloped. Stunned, Tevye orders Golde, as tradition demands, to consider Chava dead to them. Alone, he remembers Chava as a child and, in his imagination, sees his three daughters dancing together before they are enticed away by their suitors. He imagines that Chava pauses as the Fiddler plays for her, but then leaves with Fyedka. Coming out of his reverie, he realizes she is standing before him, asking for acceptance. Although he tries, he realizes that to do so requires that he deny everything he believes in and, his heart breaking, sends her away. An edict from St. Petersburg evicting the Jews from Anatevka allows them three days to sell their belongings and leave. Despite the hardships there, the Jews are devastated, but begin packing, some unsure of their destination. Chava and Fyedka are also leaving, as they refuse to stay where neighbors mistreat one another. When Chava visits, Tevye refuses to talk to her, but when Tzeitel rebels and bids her goodbye, he tells her, under his breath, to say, "God be with you," allowing the family to reclaim her. Pulling the cart loaded with their possessions, Tevye and his family join the march of exiled Jews. At a crossroad, the rabbi performs a last service before the neighbors disperse. Teyve and his family plod onward, but, when he hears the Fiddler playing a tune, Tevye motions for him to follow.

Crew

Tom Abbott

Adapted for the screen

Richard Altman

Casting consultant

Del Armstrong

Makeup

Sammy Bayes

Assistant choreographer

Jerry Bock

Composer

Gordon Bond

Hairdresser

Robert Boyle

Production Design

Joan Bridge

Costume Design

Charles Cannon

Prod accountant

Richard Carruth

Post prod Supervisor

Terry Churcher

Assistant Director

Alexander Courage

Orchestration

Jackie Cummins

Wardrobe Supervisor

Larry De Waay

Prod Supervisor

Dennis Fraser

Key grip

Antony Gibbs

Film Editor

Sam Gordon

Props Master

Howard Grigsby

Assistant Director

Elizabeth Haffenden

Costume Design

Sheldon Harnick

Composer

David Hildyard

Sound Mixer

Jerry Howard

Assistant to prod

Paul Ibbetson

2d Assistant Director

Norman Jewison

Producer

Lois La Salle

Post prod Secretary

Peter Lamont

Set Decoration

Robert Lawrence

Film Editor

Ted Lloyd

Production Manager

Branko Lustig

Loc Manager

William Maldonado

Const Manager

Brian Mann

Assistant film Editor

Gordon K. Mccallum

Sound re-rec

Oswald Morris

Director of Photography

Terry Nelson

1st Assistant Director

Wally Nelson

Assistant film Editor

Golda Offenheim

Prod Secretary

Patrick Palmer

Associate Producer

Jerome Robbins

Original choreography

Wally Schneiderman

Makeup

Elaine Schreyeck

Script Supervisor

Vladimir Spindler

2d Assistant Director

Lynn Stalmaster

Casting

John Stears

Special Effects

Joseph Stein

Screenwriter

Isaac Stern

Soloist

Michael Stringer

Art Director

Eric A. Tomlinson

Music mixer

Jim Turrell

Camera Operator

Les Wiggins

Sound Editing

John Williams

Music Adapted and Conductor

John Williams

Orchestration

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Musical
Music
Adaptation
Release Date
Nov 1971
Premiere Information
Amsterdam opening: 21 Oct 1971; New York opening: 3 Nov 1971; Los Angeles opening: 5 Nov 1971
Production Company
Cartier Productions, Inc.; Mirisch Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
Great Britain, Yugoslavia, and United States
Location
Lekenik,Yugoslavia; London, England, Great Britain; London, Engladn, Great Britain; Mala Gorica,Yugoslavia; Zagreb,Yugoslavia
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical Fiddler on the Roof , book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick (New York, 22 Sep 1964), which was based on the stories of Sholem Aleichem.

Technical Specs

Duration
3h
Sound
70 mm 6-Track, Stereo
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Wins

Best Cinematography

1971

Best Score

1971

Best Sound

1971

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1971

Best Art Direction

1971

Set Decoration

1972

Best Director

1971
Norman Jewison

Best Picture

1971

Best Supporting Actor

1971
Leonard Frey

Articles

Fiddler on the Roof


Outside the town of Zagreb, Yugoslavia, the cast and crew of the film version of Fiddler on the Roof (1971) charged ahead with the heady task of outdoing their greatest competition: the long-running Broadway stage version of the same name. At the time of filming, Fiddler was the most popular theatrical musical of the day; it has been estimated that over thirty million people in over thirty countries had viewed the play. So, director Norman Jewison was under serious pressure to produce a hit, and after extensive locale scouting, nine million dollars, and lots of pairs of ladies - nylon stockings - I'll explain later - he did.

Fiddler was nominated for eight Academy Awards in 1971 including Best Picture, Actor, and Director. It took home Oscars® for Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Scoring. Although picked and panned fairly evenly by the critics, Fiddler on the Roof was a popular success with movie audiences and successfully emerged from the shadow of its stage origins.

The story line of Fiddler on the Roof is fairly simple; in the director's own words, "It's the story of a man and his God, and his problems with his five daughters." The man, Tevye, struggles between the traditions of his Jewish faith and the wills of his headstrong daughters, three of whom are of marrying age and eager to do something about it. In a role originated on Broadway by comic Zero Mostel, the film's casting drew controversy when the man playing Tevye in the London version, an Israeli actor named only Topol, was chosen for the part. His understated performance, however, was a success on film, and served as a sharp contrast to Mostel's over the top antics that worked best onstage. Topol, however, quickly faded into obscurity after Fiddler - as did the rest of the cast, actually - with one exception. [Paul] Michael Glaser, as the character Perchik, one of the daughter's suitors, would enjoy some television success in the kitschy, mid-1970's series Starsky and Hutch as cool cop Dave Starsky.

Norman Jewison was well respected as a director, thanks to In the Heat of the Night (1967) and The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), two very tough and masculine films. Fiddler on the Roof was thus a formidable challenge as it was his first foray into the musical genre. Early on in the project, Jewison determined that the film's success depended on a strong element of realism throughout the production, hence his extensive travels from Canada to much of Eastern Europe. He finally settled on parts of rural Yugoslavia to serve as the film's fictional town of Anatevka. It was a good choice for location authenticity; the crew was able to use many of the area's existing houses and structures as is, without needing to age or distress them to look like early twentieth century Ukraine. Famed English cinematographer Oswald ("Ossie") Morris wanted the look of the film to retain an earthy feel to be able to best communicate the color and sentiment of the land. So he stuck a nylon stocking over the camera lens. Morris voraciously defended this technique, which raised a few eyebrows when the cinematography was nominated for an Oscar, as being the ideal shade to convey his message of genuine simplicity.

The pantyhose worked for Morris; he took home the Oscar® for Cinematography in 1971. As the winner for Best Scoring, John Williams of Boston Pops fame would pick up the first of many Academy Awards in his ongoing career, which includes such composing highlights as Star Wars (1977), Superman (1978), Jaws (1975), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Ultimately Fiddler on the Roof would gross over thirty-eight million; perhaps not surprisingly Jewison attempted another musical in 1973's Jesus Christ Superstar, but it did not do nearly as well. He then hit a ten-year career slump before successfully reemerging with Agnes of God in 1984 and Moonstruck a year later - certainly a comeback that would cause anyone to shout "MazelTov!"

Director/'Producer: Norman Jewison
Screenwriter: Joseph Stein
Cinematographer: Oswald Morris
Music: Jerry Bock
Editor: Antony Gibbs, Robert Lawrence
Production Designer: Robert F. Boyle
Production Designer/Set Design: Michael Stringer
Costume Designer: Joan Bridge, Elizabeth Haffenden
Cast: Topol (Tevye), Norma Crane (Golde), Leonard Frey (Motel), Molly Picon (Yente), Paul Mann (Lazar Wolf), Rosalind Harris (Tzeitel), Stella Courtney (Shandel), Stanley Fleet (Farcel), Jacob Kalich (Yankel)
C-182m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.

by Eleanor Quin
Fiddler On The Roof

Fiddler on the Roof

Outside the town of Zagreb, Yugoslavia, the cast and crew of the film version of Fiddler on the Roof (1971) charged ahead with the heady task of outdoing their greatest competition: the long-running Broadway stage version of the same name. At the time of filming, Fiddler was the most popular theatrical musical of the day; it has been estimated that over thirty million people in over thirty countries had viewed the play. So, director Norman Jewison was under serious pressure to produce a hit, and after extensive locale scouting, nine million dollars, and lots of pairs of ladies - nylon stockings - I'll explain later - he did. Fiddler was nominated for eight Academy Awards in 1971 including Best Picture, Actor, and Director. It took home Oscars® for Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Scoring. Although picked and panned fairly evenly by the critics, Fiddler on the Roof was a popular success with movie audiences and successfully emerged from the shadow of its stage origins. The story line of Fiddler on the Roof is fairly simple; in the director's own words, "It's the story of a man and his God, and his problems with his five daughters." The man, Tevye, struggles between the traditions of his Jewish faith and the wills of his headstrong daughters, three of whom are of marrying age and eager to do something about it. In a role originated on Broadway by comic Zero Mostel, the film's casting drew controversy when the man playing Tevye in the London version, an Israeli actor named only Topol, was chosen for the part. His understated performance, however, was a success on film, and served as a sharp contrast to Mostel's over the top antics that worked best onstage. Topol, however, quickly faded into obscurity after Fiddler - as did the rest of the cast, actually - with one exception. [Paul] Michael Glaser, as the character Perchik, one of the daughter's suitors, would enjoy some television success in the kitschy, mid-1970's series Starsky and Hutch as cool cop Dave Starsky. Norman Jewison was well respected as a director, thanks to In the Heat of the Night (1967) and The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), two very tough and masculine films. Fiddler on the Roof was thus a formidable challenge as it was his first foray into the musical genre. Early on in the project, Jewison determined that the film's success depended on a strong element of realism throughout the production, hence his extensive travels from Canada to much of Eastern Europe. He finally settled on parts of rural Yugoslavia to serve as the film's fictional town of Anatevka. It was a good choice for location authenticity; the crew was able to use many of the area's existing houses and structures as is, without needing to age or distress them to look like early twentieth century Ukraine. Famed English cinematographer Oswald ("Ossie") Morris wanted the look of the film to retain an earthy feel to be able to best communicate the color and sentiment of the land. So he stuck a nylon stocking over the camera lens. Morris voraciously defended this technique, which raised a few eyebrows when the cinematography was nominated for an Oscar, as being the ideal shade to convey his message of genuine simplicity. The pantyhose worked for Morris; he took home the Oscar® for Cinematography in 1971. As the winner for Best Scoring, John Williams of Boston Pops fame would pick up the first of many Academy Awards in his ongoing career, which includes such composing highlights as Star Wars (1977), Superman (1978), Jaws (1975), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Ultimately Fiddler on the Roof would gross over thirty-eight million; perhaps not surprisingly Jewison attempted another musical in 1973's Jesus Christ Superstar, but it did not do nearly as well. He then hit a ten-year career slump before successfully reemerging with Agnes of God in 1984 and Moonstruck a year later - certainly a comeback that would cause anyone to shout "MazelTov!" Director/'Producer: Norman Jewison Screenwriter: Joseph Stein Cinematographer: Oswald Morris Music: Jerry Bock Editor: Antony Gibbs, Robert Lawrence Production Designer: Robert F. Boyle Production Designer/Set Design: Michael Stringer Costume Designer: Joan Bridge, Elizabeth Haffenden Cast: Topol (Tevye), Norma Crane (Golde), Leonard Frey (Motel), Molly Picon (Yente), Paul Mann (Lazar Wolf), Rosalind Harris (Tzeitel), Stella Courtney (Shandel), Stanley Fleet (Farcel), Jacob Kalich (Yankel) C-182m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning. by Eleanor Quin

Press - Fiddler on the Roof


TCM And Capitol/EMI Records Unite to Commemorate 30 Years of Tradition With FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Celebration

Turner Classic Movies and Capitol/EMI Records will join together to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the landmark classic FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1971), with an anniversary edition of the original soundtrack and a special night of television on TCM. On November 3, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET), TCM will air a newly produced documentary - FIDDLER ON THE ROOF: 30 YEARS OF TRADITION (2001) - featuring recent cast interviews followed by the Academy Award-winning film. Capitol/EMI will re-issue a digitally re-mastered edition of the FIDDLER ON THE ROOF; soundtrack featuring a previously unreleased song on October 9. In conjunction with the celebration, MGM Home Video will release a special edition DVD of the film on October 2.

TCM's one-hour original television documentary, produced by Capitol/EMI in association with MGM Home Video, includes new interviews with director Norman Jewison, John Williams, Topol and Paul Michael Glazer and will be narrated by director Barry Levinson. The airing of an additional short segment about the making of the film produced by TCM, and a special FIDDLER ON THE ROOF section on Turnerclassicmovies.com (look for it on our This Month page), will also be part of the network's celebration of the critically acclaimed film, which won three of the eight Oscars for which it was nominated. "The TV special explains in part why the film and its music became such a universal phenomenon," says the show's writer and producer Marc Rashba. "You clearly feel part of the experience listening to the tales of these pioneering filmmakers and I hope the special does indeed serve as a tribute to the great result of their work."

In addition to winning for cinematography, the film received Oscars for music scoring and sound. The soundtrack for the film became an instant classic, and was certified GOLD in less than a year. The re-mastered CD features the classic songs "If I Were A Rich Man," "Matchmaker," and "Sunrise, Sunset" and also includes a previously unreleased song, "Any Day Now," performed by star Paul Michael Glaser, which was written for the film but was not included. Also new to the re-issue is recently discovered underscore by conductor John Williams, who wrote the film's score. An expanded booklet includes rare photos from the film, movie memorabilia and new liner notes by noted theater music historian, Didier Deutsch. The special will be dedicated to Isaac Stern who recently passed away and was instrumental in bringing the sound of the fiddler to life

Press - Fiddler on the Roof

TCM And Capitol/EMI Records Unite to Commemorate 30 Years of Tradition With FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Celebration Turner Classic Movies and Capitol/EMI Records will join together to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the landmark classic FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1971), with an anniversary edition of the original soundtrack and a special night of television on TCM. On November 3, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET), TCM will air a newly produced documentary - FIDDLER ON THE ROOF: 30 YEARS OF TRADITION (2001) - featuring recent cast interviews followed by the Academy Award-winning film. Capitol/EMI will re-issue a digitally re-mastered edition of the FIDDLER ON THE ROOF; soundtrack featuring a previously unreleased song on October 9. In conjunction with the celebration, MGM Home Video will release a special edition DVD of the film on October 2. TCM's one-hour original television documentary, produced by Capitol/EMI in association with MGM Home Video, includes new interviews with director Norman Jewison, John Williams, Topol and Paul Michael Glazer and will be narrated by director Barry Levinson. The airing of an additional short segment about the making of the film produced by TCM, and a special FIDDLER ON THE ROOF section on Turnerclassicmovies.com (look for it on our This Month page), will also be part of the network's celebration of the critically acclaimed film, which won three of the eight Oscars for which it was nominated. "The TV special explains in part why the film and its music became such a universal phenomenon," says the show's writer and producer Marc Rashba. "You clearly feel part of the experience listening to the tales of these pioneering filmmakers and I hope the special does indeed serve as a tribute to the great result of their work." In addition to winning for cinematography, the film received Oscars for music scoring and sound. The soundtrack for the film became an instant classic, and was certified GOLD in less than a year. The re-mastered CD features the classic songs "If I Were A Rich Man," "Matchmaker," and "Sunrise, Sunset" and also includes a previously unreleased song, "Any Day Now," performed by star Paul Michael Glaser, which was written for the film but was not included. Also new to the re-issue is recently discovered underscore by conductor John Williams, who wrote the film's score. An expanded booklet includes rare photos from the film, movie memorabilia and new liner notes by noted theater music historian, Didier Deutsch. The special will be dedicated to Isaac Stern who recently passed away and was instrumental in bringing the sound of the fiddler to life

Nostalghia


Most films aim for efficient entertainment, they get you in, get you out and it's done. You won't get anything like that with Andrei Tarkovsky's Nostalghia (1983) which critic J. Hoberman once described as "not so much a movie as a place to inhabit for two hours." Lushly beautiful and haunting, Nostalghia is also a challenging, thought-provoking work. Movie critic Leonard Maltin called it a "provocative, insightful epic, lovingly rendered by one of the cinema's true poets."

Tarkovsky's film follows the musicologist Gortchakov (played by Oleg Yankovsky from The Mirror, 1975) during a research trip to Italy where the composer he's studying lived for several years. Gortchakov is apparently oblivious to his beautiful translator and the wonders of Italy, instead dwelling on memories of Russia. Things start to change when he encounters Domenico (Bergman veteran Erland Josephson), a somewhat unstable man who has kept his family locked up for seven years while waiting the end of the world. Domenico has now decided that rather than wait he should do something about the end and he's decided Gortchakov should help.

Nostalghia can trace its beginnings back to early 1976 when Tarkovsky started working with Italian screenwriter and long-time friend Tonino Guerra (a frequent Antonioni collaborator) on a project called Journey Through Italy for Italian television. Though a script was written, Tarkovsky was sidetracked for a few years by work on Stalker (1979) and a stage adaptation of Hamlet. In the summer of 1979, he briefly considered an adaptation of Dostoyevsky's The Idiot before picking up the Italian project again. It was now called Nostalghia (the word refers to a particular Russian feeling when "far from their native land") and Tarkovsky spent weeks in the Italian country with Guerra working on notes and ideas. This resulted in Tarkovsky's only documentary, an hour-long compilation of the journey called Time of Travel. Shortly after Tarkovsky returned to Russia, his mother died (Nostalghia is dedicated to her). You can also see quotations from his father's poems in one scene. That's apparently when the director started thinking seriously about leaving his home country.

In the middle of 1980, Tarkovsky was back in Italy, again working with Guerra. By now the script included elements from their earlier trip along with references to Russian literature and music. The composer in the film is modeled after 18th century composer Maximilian Berezovsky, the first Russian to compose Italian-style opera and whose suicide already inspired several plays and novels. Nostalghia was to be a co-production between Italy and Russia which created problems Tarkovsky hadn't encountered before, namely, the friction between the commercial-minded Italian company (who kept trimming the budget and demanding final cut privileges) and the bureaucratic Russian film studio (who claimed to "lose" messages from the Italians).

The main character of Gortchakov was originally intended for Anatoli Solonitsyn (who'd played the lead role in Andrei Rublev, 1969) but he was seriously ill and eventually died in June 1982. The role was offered to another Tarkovsky veteran, Aleksandr Kajdanovsky (Stalker), but when he wasn't given permission to leave the country it finally went to Oleg Yankovsky. In the spring of 1982, Tarkovsky finalized the other actors and scouted locations in Italy. Filming finally started in the fall when Tarkovsky discovered that the leisurely way he worked in Russia wasn't possible in Italy. He couldn't, for instance, take his time watching daily rushes, re-filming parts or suspending shooting while he pondered the direction of the film. He also had to work through an interpreter since he knew very little Italian and there was only one other Russian actor. Still, Tarkovsky later claimed that Nostalghia represented his interior thoughts better than any of his other films, partly due to the sheer concentration required by the challenging work environment. A few scenes were scheduled to be shot in Russia but Tarkovsky decided to do those scenes in Italy since he didn't think he would be allowed to leave Russia if he went back; in fact he never returned to Russia. (His wife joined him during the filming of Nostalghia but his son stayed in Russia.)

Nostalghia showed at Cannes where Tarkovsky later claimed that the Russian authorities had pulled strings to prevent him from getting the Grand Prix. Still, he was awarded Best Director (tied with Robert Bresson for L'Argent), the International Critics Award and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury so he did have some success. Also at Cannes, Tarkovsky signed a contract with the Swedish Film Institute to make a film called The Witch (later titled The Sacrifice, 1986) that would turn out to be his last feature.

Producer: Franco Casati
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Screenplay: Tonino Guerra, Andrei Tarkovsky
Cinematography: Giuseppe Lanci
Costume Design: Lina Nerli Taviani
Film Editing: Amedeo Salfa, Erminia Marani
Original Music: Ludwig van Beethoven
Principal Cast: Oleg Yankovsky (Andrei Gortchakov), Domiziana Giordano (Eugenia), Erland Josephson (Domenico), Patrizia Terreno (Gortchakov's wife), Laura De Marchi (Chambermaid).
C-130m.

by Lang Thompson

Nostalghia

Most films aim for efficient entertainment, they get you in, get you out and it's done. You won't get anything like that with Andrei Tarkovsky's Nostalghia (1983) which critic J. Hoberman once described as "not so much a movie as a place to inhabit for two hours." Lushly beautiful and haunting, Nostalghia is also a challenging, thought-provoking work. Movie critic Leonard Maltin called it a "provocative, insightful epic, lovingly rendered by one of the cinema's true poets." Tarkovsky's film follows the musicologist Gortchakov (played by Oleg Yankovsky from The Mirror, 1975) during a research trip to Italy where the composer he's studying lived for several years. Gortchakov is apparently oblivious to his beautiful translator and the wonders of Italy, instead dwelling on memories of Russia. Things start to change when he encounters Domenico (Bergman veteran Erland Josephson), a somewhat unstable man who has kept his family locked up for seven years while waiting the end of the world. Domenico has now decided that rather than wait he should do something about the end and he's decided Gortchakov should help. Nostalghia can trace its beginnings back to early 1976 when Tarkovsky started working with Italian screenwriter and long-time friend Tonino Guerra (a frequent Antonioni collaborator) on a project called Journey Through Italy for Italian television. Though a script was written, Tarkovsky was sidetracked for a few years by work on Stalker (1979) and a stage adaptation of Hamlet. In the summer of 1979, he briefly considered an adaptation of Dostoyevsky's The Idiot before picking up the Italian project again. It was now called Nostalghia (the word refers to a particular Russian feeling when "far from their native land") and Tarkovsky spent weeks in the Italian country with Guerra working on notes and ideas. This resulted in Tarkovsky's only documentary, an hour-long compilation of the journey called Time of Travel. Shortly after Tarkovsky returned to Russia, his mother died (Nostalghia is dedicated to her). You can also see quotations from his father's poems in one scene. That's apparently when the director started thinking seriously about leaving his home country. In the middle of 1980, Tarkovsky was back in Italy, again working with Guerra. By now the script included elements from their earlier trip along with references to Russian literature and music. The composer in the film is modeled after 18th century composer Maximilian Berezovsky, the first Russian to compose Italian-style opera and whose suicide already inspired several plays and novels. Nostalghia was to be a co-production between Italy and Russia which created problems Tarkovsky hadn't encountered before, namely, the friction between the commercial-minded Italian company (who kept trimming the budget and demanding final cut privileges) and the bureaucratic Russian film studio (who claimed to "lose" messages from the Italians). The main character of Gortchakov was originally intended for Anatoli Solonitsyn (who'd played the lead role in Andrei Rublev, 1969) but he was seriously ill and eventually died in June 1982. The role was offered to another Tarkovsky veteran, Aleksandr Kajdanovsky (Stalker), but when he wasn't given permission to leave the country it finally went to Oleg Yankovsky. In the spring of 1982, Tarkovsky finalized the other actors and scouted locations in Italy. Filming finally started in the fall when Tarkovsky discovered that the leisurely way he worked in Russia wasn't possible in Italy. He couldn't, for instance, take his time watching daily rushes, re-filming parts or suspending shooting while he pondered the direction of the film. He also had to work through an interpreter since he knew very little Italian and there was only one other Russian actor. Still, Tarkovsky later claimed that Nostalghia represented his interior thoughts better than any of his other films, partly due to the sheer concentration required by the challenging work environment. A few scenes were scheduled to be shot in Russia but Tarkovsky decided to do those scenes in Italy since he didn't think he would be allowed to leave Russia if he went back; in fact he never returned to Russia. (His wife joined him during the filming of Nostalghia but his son stayed in Russia.) Nostalghia showed at Cannes where Tarkovsky later claimed that the Russian authorities had pulled strings to prevent him from getting the Grand Prix. Still, he was awarded Best Director (tied with Robert Bresson for L'Argent), the International Critics Award and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury so he did have some success. Also at Cannes, Tarkovsky signed a contract with the Swedish Film Institute to make a film called The Witch (later titled The Sacrifice, 1986) that would turn out to be his last feature. Producer: Franco Casati Director: Andrei Tarkovsky Screenplay: Tonino Guerra, Andrei Tarkovsky Cinematography: Giuseppe Lanci Costume Design: Lina Nerli Taviani Film Editing: Amedeo Salfa, Erminia Marani Original Music: Ludwig van Beethoven Principal Cast: Oleg Yankovsky (Andrei Gortchakov), Domiziana Giordano (Eugenia), Erland Josephson (Domenico), Patrizia Terreno (Gortchakov's wife), Laura De Marchi (Chambermaid). C-130m. by Lang Thompson

Quotes

As the good book says, when a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick.
- Tevye
Where does the book say that?
- Mendel
Well, it doesn't say that exactly, but somewhere there is something about a chicken.
- Tevye
Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play?
- Tevye
I don't remember growing older. When did they?
- Golde
In this world it is the wealthy who are criminals. Someday their wealth will be ours.
- Perchik
That would be nice. If they would agree, I would agree.
- Tevye
As Abraham said, "I am a stranger in a strange land... "
- Tevye
Moses said that.
- Rabbi's Son
Ah. Well, as King David said, "I am slow of speech, and slow of tongue."
- Tevye
That was also Moses.
- Rabbi's Son
For a man who was slow of speech he talked a lot.
- Tevye
But Mama, the men she finds. The last one was so old and he was bald. He had no hair.
- Tzeitel
A poor girl without a dowry can't be so particular. You want hair, marry a monkey.
- Golde

Trivia

Topol was only in his mid-thirties when he performed the role of an older Tevye.

To get the kind of look he wanted for the film, director Norman Jewison got Director of Photography Oswald Morris, who was famous for shooting color films in unusual styles, to shoot the entire film with a woman's stocking placed over the lens. Morris also shot the musical number "Tevye's Dream" in sepia rather than in full color. He had previously filmed Moulin Rouge (1952) with a color style made to resemble Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings and Moby Dick (1956) in a color style made to resemble 19th century engravings of life at sea.

The film takes its name from a painting by the Russian painter Marc Chagall called "The Dead Man" which depicts a funeral scene and shows a man playing a fiddle on a roof top.

Director Norman Jewison was brought into the project by executives thinking he was Jewish. His first words to the executives upon meeting were, "You know I'm not Jewish... right?"

Notes

Before the opening credits there is a prologue, set between dawn and dusk of the villagers' day, in which Topol as "Tevye" addresses the audience to explain the precarious existence of the Jews in pre-revolution Russia of the early 1900s. As the song "Tradition" commences, Tevye introduces several notable minor characters in order to illustrate village life, and the villagers-fathers, mothers, sons and daughters-sing about their specific roles within the traditional Jewish family. Emphasis is placed on how the children are trained for marriages that are arranged by the "Papa," who reigns supreme in the hierarchy of the family. Tevye explains that, because of the long-held traditions that govern what they eat and wear and how they are to behave, people in the Jewish community know their place and what God expects of them. He concludes by saying that without their traditions their "lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof."
       In the opening credits that follow, Harold Prince's onscreen credit reads: "Produced on the New York stage by Harold Prince." Jerome Robbins' opening onscreen credit reads: "Entire stage production directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins." Chaim Topol is credited onscreen and most reviews simply as "Topol." The actor Michael Glaser, who portrayed "Perchik," was credited later in his career as "Paul Michael Glaser." The ending credits conclude with an acknowledgment to the people of the villages of Lekenic and Mala Gorica and the city of Zagreb, Yugoslavia.
       During the opening credits, the fiddler, a symbolic character who appears intermittently throughout the story in response to Tevye's thoughts, plays a passionate violin solo while standing on the rooftop of a small wooden house. The actor portraying the fiddler, Tutte Lemkow, was dubbed by the famous violinist Isaac Stern. Several times throughout the film, when Tevye must choose between tradition and his daughters' happiness, all action except for Tevye's is frozen, a device used in the original stage play written by Joseph Stein, who also wrote the screenplay. Brief flashbacks occur during the songs "Far From the Home I Love" and "Little Bird, Little Chavela." During the latter, a dance commences during the song and is performed by Tevye's three eldest daughters, their suitors and the Fiddler, while the camera moves between Tevye and the dance.
       The film and stage play of Fiddler on the Roof were based on stories by Sholem (or Sholom) Yakov Rabinowitz (1859-1916), who wrote under the pseudonym, Sholem Aleichem, which is also a common greeting meaning "peace be with you." Born into a poor Jewish family near Kiev in the Ukraine, Aleichem became a prolific writer of stories in Russian and Hebrew, languages used by the learned Russian Jews. After 1883, he also wrote in vernacular Yiddish, and was the first to write children's literature in that language. Because of the pogroms in Russia, Aleichem and his family emigrated first to Switzerland and, in 1914, to New York City, where his unusual pen name and the style of his stories prompted his reputation as the "Jewish Mark Twain."
       His stories about Jewish shtetl life were beloved and translated into many languages. His posthumously produced play Tevye the Milkman (1917) and several other of his stories featured many of the characters that would later appear in Fiddler on the Roof. Despite initial fears prior to the 1964 opening of the stage version that the story of Fiddler on the Roof would interest only a limited, ethnic audience, the Broadway production, starring Zero Mostel as Tevye, was universally acclaimed, and became the first commercially successful English-language play about Eastern European Jewish life. It ran continuously until 1972, well after the film's release. Remounted several times, it is considered by many a masterwork of the theater.
       According to a November 1964 Daily Variety news item, Ross Hunter and Harold Prince were considering producing Fiddler on the Roof for Universal. In January 1966, Los Angeles Times reported that United Artists was in the process of buying the rights to the play, under the stipulation that the film not be released until 1971, in order to avoid interfering with the play's profits. A July 1968 Variety article reported that Norman Jewison would produce and direct the film version, which would be produced by his Simkoe Productions and Walter Mirisch for United Artists release. At that time it was expected that either Mostel or Israeli actor Topol, who performed the role in 1967 on the London stage, would play the lead. According to modern sources, Jewison felt that Mostel's more comedic approach would not translate well to the film and he wanted a first or second generation Russian Jew in that role. According to a November 1971 The Citizen Newspapers, Rosalind Harris, who played "Tzeitel," was an understudy for that role in the New York stage version at that time.
       As noted in the Variety review, the choreography for the film was taken "mostly intact" from Jerome Robbins' choreography for the 1964 stage version. As in the stage version, the film was originally shown with an intermission and entr'acte music. The script, too, is almost verbatim of the stage play, but some sequences were added, such as Perchik's capture and arrest in Kiev, Golde's visit to the Orthodox Church, and conversations between the constable and his superior, a character who did not appear in the stage version. Shots of the countryside and village, which were only implied in the stage play, were explicit in the film.
       As noted in the New York Times review, the movie contained more elaborate realism than the stage play, a complaint the reviewer made of "most stage to screen stories," in which there is an attempt "to enlarge the physical frame of the show" rather than tamper with the text. According to a December 1971 The Times (London) article, Jewison "had known from the beginning that realism would be one of his main problems." Jewison noted that Fiddler on the Roof "is closer to being a folk opera than it is a musical," and that to "infuse the music into the piece without stopping the story" he had to take out some of the dance and chorus. He also omitted from the film the song "Rumor," which depicted how information in a letter from Perchik to Hodel is relayed around the village and changed, as well as Perchik's song, "Now I Have Everything." Although a new song, "Any Day Now," was written to be sung by Perchik, it was cut from the released film. The director presented songs as voice-overs to keep the story moving.
       According to the The Times article, the music was prerecorded in May 1970, before principal shooting began, using a double playback system. Although the tempo of the music was set at that time, the performance of each song could be altered and re-recorded over the orchestral accompaniment during the shooting of the scene.
       To achieve the feeling of Tevye's intimacy with God during his conversations with the deity, Topol focused his eyes on a Star of David that was attached to a stick carried behind the camera by Jewison, according to The Times article. The article also stated that Jewison shot the film through a piece of silk stocking "to give a kind of umber, earth-toned quality." He noted that no primary colors were used in the picture except for the red flag in the revolutionary scene in Kiev.
       Hollywood Reporter production charts reported that the film was shot in Yugoslavia and London. A written statement before the closing credits states that technical facilities were furnished by Jadran Film in Zagreb, Yugoslavia and Pinewood Studios in London, England. According to the Variety review, the fictional village of Anatevka was filmed at Lekenik, Yugoslavia, located twenty-five miles from Zagreb. Studio production notes stated that Jewison felt that the Lekenik and Mala Gorica had an "inherent Chagall-like style that blended with the design of the film and the intent of Sholom Aleichem." The buildings for the town were built out of wood from dilapidated houses in the area that would have existed at the time of the film's setting. Production designer Robert Boyle studied over 100 plans of synagogues from the Ukraine to ensure the set's authenticity.
       According to the studio notes, the main rehearsals were held at Pinewood Studios, although others were held on London's Floral Street and in a synagogue in Soho. Modern sources add Nigel Kingsley and Kenneth Walker to the cast. According to an October 1971 Variety, Fiddler on the Roof had a one-performance charity premiere in Amsterdam on October 21, 1971. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, losing to The French Connection (see below). Topol was nominated for Best Actor, Leonard Frey for Best Supporting Actor, and Jewison for Best Director. John Williams won his first Academy Award for Best Scoring. Gordon K. McCallum and David Hildyard won Best Sound and Oswald Morris won Best Cinematography. The film also received a nomination for Best Art Direction, but lost to Nicholas and Alexandria.
       As reported in a 2001 Time Out (London) news item, the film was condemned by the military regime of Chile for sixteen years because of its alleged Marxist content until the government lifted the ban in 2001. Another film based on the work of Aleichem is The World of Sholom Aleichem, which was directed for television in 1959 and had in its cast Zero Mostel. Although a December 1965 Daily Variety news item reported that Arnold Perl, who owned the rights to the Aleichem properties and had written an English adaptation of one of the stories, had plans to produce a non-musical film based on the works as an independent film at Zagreb Studios in Belgrade, no further information was found about this project.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States November 1971

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1971

Based on the musical "Fiddler on the Roof," book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick (New York, Sep 22, 1964), which was based on the Sholem Aleichem stories.

Released in USA on video.

Re-released in United Kingdom June 22, 2001.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1971

Released in United States November 1971