By Don Morton
Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen
The TRADITION of cinematic adaptation
March 30, 2023
Those that have no use for musicals need read no further. Now then. Fans of the genre know that adapting an on-stage smash is not always a guarantee of cinematic success. A thrilling live-cast experience in the wrong directorial hands can be a disappointing, hollow and even insulting movie-house sit.
So when, inevitably, in 1971, whoever decides such things decided it was time for a movie version of one of the most successful stage musicals of all time, Fiddler on the Roof, the producers brought in the talented filmmakers they thought could do it justice. So, as the title implies, this is a documentary, by Daniel Raim and narrated by Jeff Goldblum, on completing that gigantic task, providing peeks into the minds of those able to put such a jigsaw together, both creatively and technically.
Indeed, the film is kind of more about Norman Jewison than Fiddler. The director had already made In the Heat of the Night and The Thomas Crowne Affair (the 1968 one) and would go on to do Jesus Christ Superstar and Moonstruck. Fun fact: despite the story’s theme, of a persecuted Jewish shtetl in pre-war Russia, and his very name, Jewison is not Jewish. (88 min)