Fiddler On the Roof movie remake from director Thomas Kail

Jake Lipson

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Thomas Kail (Hamilton) will direct a remake of Fiddler On the Roof for MGM. Steven Levinson, who scripted the wildly overrated Dear Evan Hansen, will write this as well.


I love Fiddler, but this has me scratching my head. To be 100% fair, I also said the same thing about the West Side Story remake when it was first announced, and I've now come around on that one and am really looking forward to it. So anything's possible. But whereas that movie had representational issues like a made-up white woman playing the lead Latina character, I don't recall any such issues with the existing Fiddler film that would provide an obvious way into doing another film. That being said, we'll see what happens.
 
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Matt Hough

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Again (and even more so than with West Side Story), I do not understand the philosophy behind doing a remake of this classic film. How about some musicals that haven't been filmed yet? Follies perhaps?

And is there any connection that both West Side and Fiddler were Jerome Robbins stage properties?
 

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Follies perhaps?
That's coming. See this thread:


But I agree with your general point. There is much less room to work within Fiddler than with West Side because the original has no ethnicity problems, so I'd much rather see Kali turn his attention to something that hasn't been filmed yet. If he really wants to do this, I'm sure some theater somewhere will be happy to do a production on stage when the pandemic is over and live theaters reopen.

But I'm a big Fiddler fan and I'll probably see it out of curiosity.
 
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Chelsearicky

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Thomas Kali (Hamilton) will direct a remake of Fiddler On the Roof for MGM. Steven Levinson, who scripted the wildly overrated Dear Evan Hansen, will write this as well.


I love Fiddler, but this has me scratching my head. To be 100% fair, I also said the same thing about the West Side Story remake when it was first announced, and I've now come around on that one and am really looking forward to it. So anything's possible. But whereas that movie had representational issues like a made-up white woman playing the lead Latina character, I don't recall any such issues with the existing Fiddler film that would provide an obvious way into doing another film. That being said, we'll see what happens.
It's interesting that white Greek American George Chakiris playing Bernardo is never criticized in discussions around 'WSS's casting. He has at least as much screen time as Wood.
 

Jake Lipson

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It's interesting that white Greek American George Chakiris playing Bernardo is never criticized in discussions around 'WSS's casting. He has at least as much screen time as Wood.
As I think we've discussed in the West Side Story remake thread, the reason that Wood/Maria gets the most attention is because she is the film's protagonist. By no means was my comment meant to be limited exclusively to her; she's just the obvious example. But this is getting away from Fiddler, which is the topic of this thread. My point in making that comment was that a remake of West Side Story can be justified by way of correcting the cultural representation problems in the original film. Fiddler has no such problem with its original film.
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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Again (and even more so than with West Side Story), I do not understand the philosophy behind doing a remake of this classic film.
Agreed. Maybe it's because there have been so many local productions of this, but I feel like "Fiddler" is one of the more overdone musicals. And the Norman Jewison adaptation was critically acclaimed, nominated for Best Picture, and the winner of three Academy awards.

At least with West Side Story, Spielberg has switched it up with more authentic casting and some very different production choices. But "Fiddler" takes place in a rural shtetl in the western fringes of the Russian empire at the beginning of the twentieth century. That setting only allows for so many choices.

Maybe Kail will do something unexpected and new with the material that justifies going back to the well. But I'm skeptical.
 

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frankly, i have no problem with the original, classic WEST SIDE STORY and its casting. the discussion of Natalie Wood's ethnicity seems odd---no one seems to call for a remake of KING AND I as Yul Brynner wasn't Asian. Brando wasn't Italian. Omar Sharif wasn't Russian. Alec Guiness wasn't Arab. and Natalie was magical in the role. I still adore Wise and Robbins' 10 Oscar winner. Speilberg has got to really make a fabulous film to compete with its predecessor.
as far as FIDDLER, it makes no sense at all. Jewison's movie was practically perfect. if Kail is to make a movie musical, there are plenty Bway greats that still haven't been filmed. there are also plenty of movie musicals that didn't really work--and he could try his hand at improving them--CAMELOT, SOUTH PACIFIC, HOW TO SUCCEED, OKLAHOMA, CAROUSEL, HELLO DOLLY, A CHORUS LINE, MAN OF LA MANCHA, GUYS AND DOLLS, 1776.....to name a few.
 

Jake Lipson

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To be 100% clear, as I've also said in the West Side Story thread, I'm not in any way saying that the 1961 version of West Side Story is a bad movie. I would never say that. I love that movie. The ethnicity issues in it exist because it was a product of its time and that was how things were done then. That doesn't mean Natalie Wood, or anyone else in the cast, did a bad job. It just means that the remake opens up the possibility of doing things in a different way that is more sensitive to the cultural norms of today. I can't wait to see the new West Side Story, but I will also continue to watch the original, because it's great and I think there is space for two movies there.

That being said, there's less room to work within a Fiddler remake because they nailed it the first time. I understand why Kail wants to do it; Fiddler is a beloved piece, and he is probably a huge fan of it like the rest of us. He is extremely talented and I don't think he'll make a bad movie. If MGM is determined to do this, then he's a very good hire. But I also think, as has been pointed out here already, that there are other musicals which either haven't gotten a movie adaptation yet or which received one that is far less effective than Fiddler, where Kail's talents and resources would be more effectively used to give us something we don't already have.
 
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TJPC

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I saw “Fiddler” on its way to Broadway when a child in Detroit, and the road show when it came back. I played the original cast record until it wore out and bought the CD. I saw the movie and bought it on DVD and Blu ray. We also took my daughter to see a road show production when she was about ten.

I am afraid it is now one of my “only with a gun to my head” musicals. If I flip through the channels and I see it I can’t flip past it fast enough. I can’t imagine why in the world this worn out show is even being considered for a remake when there are 1000s Of others.
 

Jake Lipson

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this worn out show
Because it's not worn out? The themes and ideas in the story are timeless, even while it is rooted in a very specific time period. It works on stage every time it is revived because the show is just that well-constructed.

I don't know if I personally would throw millions of dollars into a remake when the original movie is just about as close to perfect as it gets. However, I do think the material absolutely has the capability to speak to our current generation and our current times. It just doesn't need a remake to do that because the original still does.
 

Mike Frezon

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In 2019, Max Lewkowicz directed a documentary on the continuing legacy of Fiddler on the Roof. It was called: Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles.



It does a great job laying out the enduring themes which continue to bring audiences. The doc ends with this bit of information: "Since Fiddler On the Roof opened on Broadway on September 22, 1964...the show has been performed EVERY DAY...somewhere around the world."


The DVD of Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles is currently available on Amazon for $11.99. If you like Fiddler, do yourself a favor and see this documentary.

Besides clips of many different productions/casts (including Joel Grey's all-Yiddish production), there are interviews with Harold Prince, Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick (I went to college with his daughter!), Joseph Stein...and many, many more. It is really wonderful (despite one unfortunate segue into contemporary politics).
 
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Jake Lipson

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Well, now, I'm pretty sure Fiddler hasn't been performed anywhere in the world for the last couple of months, unfortunately. But it will come back when live theater does. It's an inevitability. That being said, I absolutely agree with Mike about the documentary. I was able to see it at my local arthouse during its extremely brief theatrical run last fall, and it's terrific.
 

cinemiracle

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It's interesting that white Greek American George Chakiris playing Bernardo is never criticized in discussions around 'WSS's casting. He has at least as much screen time as Wood.
George Chakiris played RIFF on stage in London- a white man - but he was also brilliant as Bernando in the film.
 

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