HTF REVIEW: "Fiddler On The Roof" SE: First time viewing

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 1, 2001.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein


    Many times in my earlier life I tried
    watching Fiddler On The Roof, and
    usually only made it 30 minutes through before
    I turned it off. Although I was a fan of
    musicals, this one was too (uhm) untraditional
    to the more flavorable musical movies I had
    watched as a kid.
    Still, one could not just ignore Fiddler
    On The Roof. The songs from the show/movie
    have become standards. Even without having seen
    the film I knew "Matchmaker Matchmaker" and
    "Tradition" as well as "Sunrise Sunset". But
    without seeing the film, these songs were just
    meaningless tunes.
    I suppose there are different times
    when one grows to appreciate some of the more
    complex musicals like Fiddler On The Roof.
    With the release of this new Special Edition DVD,
    I knew that it was time to sit down and give this
    film a thorough sitting.
    Now, as a middle-aged man, my entire perspective
    has changed. I feel like I have just watched one
    of the most magnificent musicals ever, and I sort
    of feel ashamed that it has taken me this long to
    realize the power of this film.
    Fiddler On The Roof is a powerful, and
    often amusing story about the breakdown of traditions.
    It's the story of a poor milkman (Topol) who tries
    to keep his faith despite having to accept that
    his world is changing around him.
    I imagine I don't have to really say too much
    more about this film. Most everyone has seen it.
    What I do hope to accomplish in this thread is
    to perhaps persuade those of you who have never
    given this film an opportunity, to do so now.
    This is actually the second release of FIDDLER
    to DVD. I remember when this film was
    first issued to the format, people were raving
    about the video transfer quality. I am a little
    confused about those remarks, as I felt that while
    the transfer is above average, it is not as good
    as I expected. There are a few minor color shifts
    and noticeable grain in the picture. I can see,
    however, based upon the raw scenes I saw in the
    supplemental area, that the film has been cleaned
    up substantially.
    Where this DVD does excel is in the audio
    department. With a 5.1 stereo surround mix,
    the music is very clear and punchy with a lot
    of bass response. For a film made in 1971, I
    was surprised that such a nice mix was done to
    give the rear speakers some ambient sounds
    throughout the presentation.
    After watching the film, I turned the disc over
    to look at the Supplemental material. There is
    an extensive documentary on Director Norman
    Jewison, which includes a great deal of
    behind-the-scenes footage taken in Yugoslavia
    where the movie was filmed. Not only do we see
    the main actors practicing on the set, but we
    learn how most of the sets were scouted and how
    marble dust had to be added to key scenes to
    show snow on the ground.
    You will also be most interested in a deleted
    song sequence, "Any Day Now". Although no film
    footage exists for this scene, we hear the original
    composition aided by still pictures.
    It is also interesting to see "Tevye's Dream",
    a memorable B&W sequence in the film, now shown
    in color (as it was filmed) for the very first
    time. I think after you watch this color segment
    you will agree that it was the right decision to
    present it in Black & White.
    I am so proud that after all these years I
    was able to sit down and finally watch this film
    completely. In fact, by the time I reached the
    wedding scene and found myself immersed in
    "Sunrise, Sunset", I felt I had reached Nirvana.
    Release Date: October 2nd
    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
    Home Theater Forum Administrator
    All forum questions & to get on our private forum mailing list (new members)... Email: [email protected]
    Problems with the webpage or site? Contact WEBMASTER
    Email Packy [email protected]
  2. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

    Sep 3, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Ron, I'll let you and everyone else in on a secret: Fiddler On the Roof is the very first dvd I ever bought and I have close to 400. That's how much this musical means to me. Good to hear that you finally sat down to watch the film. Those who haven't are missing one of the best musicals ever to be put on film, bar none. I can't wait to get my hands on this one, especially when I convert to front projection.
    It is a family favorite and I'm sure I'll have many people over to watch. The extras sound interesting. Did you say it was an anamorphic transfer?
    Thanks for the review.
  3. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

    Mar 4, 2000
    Likes Received:
    League City, Texas
    Real Name:
    Craig Seanor
    Ron, thanks for the review. I personally think Fiddler is often underrated. IMO, it's without a doubt the BEST film translation of a Broadway musical. I can still remember seeing this when it premiered in our local theater (1971, I believe). I was transfixed from the opening notes of "Tradition". I have watched it many times since and never tire of it, because there's so much going on. I can't wait to get the new DVD!
    Too many DVDs, too little time...
    AFI 100 Challenge - 36 to go!
  4. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

    Jan 22, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Aaron Silverman
    Man, I've gotta bust this one out. . .I haven't watched it in a million years! I think my folks still have my disc.
    Maybe I should have brought it to LA, eh Craig? [​IMG]
  5. Sarah S

    Sarah S Second Unit

    Feb 6, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I guess one of the advantages of having a small income is that when you finally get around to buying a dvd on your want list, they've already released the SE [​IMG]
    Definitely moving this further up the list.
  6. Peter Overduin

    Peter Overduin Supporting Actor

    Jun 30, 1997
    Likes Received:
    This, along with many other great musicals that have come to DVD, has become a family favorite, with an added 'side-benefit.' My kids, being teenagers would likely never allow us to bring them to school with Sunset Sunset blaring from the car speakers. However, I have lost count of the number of times I have had to go into their rooms late at night and turn off their CD players after they have fallen asleep to the soundtrack! Its a wonderful movie that, in may ways, speaks to our own times. Its a pity that no one seems to be able to make music like that anymore.
  7. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

    Oct 5, 1998
    Likes Received:
    Boise, ID
    Real Name:
    I've just started up my copy of the new SE. Costco sold it for $12.99 so I bought it even though I had the earlier version. Any comments about the transfer of the SE vs. the first release?
    I'll mention that this disk is another reason to miss Issac Stern, who passed away last month. There's an important reason why the recording of the "fiddler" sounds so much better than a peasant fiddler would.....
    Feline audience members Katie, Susie, and the one and only Fluffy Pumpkin
    [Edited last by Dennis Nicholls on October 02, 2001 at 09:57 PM]
  8. Nicole P

    Nicole P Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 31, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Fiddler was the first disc in my collection too. Seeing it for the first time in widescreen glory got me hooked on to DVD.
    In my opinion, it is the best musical. It has an honesty about it that other musicals, while great in their own right, tend to lack. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that distinctive music, song, and dance is integral to the Jewish way of life. That's why it works so well in this film. It doesn't look like a stage production that got moved outdoors. It looks like a believable snapshot of life in a real community. There isn't a cheesy number and each sequence is compelling in the continuity of its storytelling.
    And yes, hats off to Isaac Stern who ghost fiddled for a few other films but will always be remembered for this one.

    "So where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within."
  9. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

    Feb 24, 1999
    Likes Received:
    dvdfile did a review and said that the video of this new SE is superior to the older...less edgyness and less MPEG artifacts etc. Go to their site and scroll down till you see 'Filder' in their list of current DVDs.
    Oh heck:
  10. Michael Lee

    Michael Lee Supporting Actor

    Jan 7, 1998
    Likes Received:
  11. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

    Dec 16, 1998
    Likes Received:
    Ron, it's nice to see you discover another classic film (I still remember your "Patton" review). I am a big fan of Hollywood musicals, and Fiddler is one of my favorites. I have only watched the first half of the new DVD so far, but the video transfer is much improved over the previous release, which I used to own. If I recall properly, the old transfer was non-anamorphic as well (I've sold the title, so I cannot confirm this).
    My DVD Collection
    AFI 100 Films to watch: 40 -> 4
  12. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

    Sep 3, 1999
    Likes Received:
    My Circuit City had it for $13.99 today. "If I were a rich man" I wouldn't have to worry about such things! [​IMG]
  13. Greg Rakaska

    Greg Rakaska Stunt Coordinator

    May 16, 1999
    Likes Received:
    To quote Ron: "Now, as a middle-aged man, my entire perspective has changed. I feel like I have just watched one
    of the most magnificent musicals ever, and I sort of feel ashamed that it has taken me this long to realize the power of this film."
    I think this happens to all of us "old fogies". I am now 53, a mere 10 years ago you would have never "caught me dead" watching the likes of "Fiddler on the Roof", "Singing in the Rain", "The Sound of Music", "Camelot", etc.
    Now these are among my favorite, most "re-watchable" movies. This is not to say that I do not like the action-adventure genre any longer. Of my 500 DVDs, only about 30 are musicals. Most are the big blockbuster action/adventure/sci-fi/fantasy types.
    To quote one of my favorites "You are not Alone!"
  14. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

    Mar 23, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Greg R -
    The reason you only have 30 musicals on DVD is becuase there are only 30 or so musicals out on DVD. This is the on genre the studios over look. Maybe the sales aren't there, but musicals do hold up well to repeat viewings, after all we watch music videos over and over.
  15. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
    Likes Received:
  16. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

    Jun 20, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    First, I'm AMAZED you had never seen "Fiddler," had only seen "Godfather" once and had never seen "Godfather 2."
    The one thing I always think about "Fiddler" is that I really don't think of it as a "Musical." I actually really don't like musicals most of the time. Of course it IS a musical, just not a conventional one because it is also one of the most moving movies ever made. I couldn't say how many times I have seen it, but I do know that it instantly became a favorite of mine when it came out, even though I was only 7 years old, and it would still probably be Top 10 if I put together a Top 10.
    I haven't gotten the new disc yet, but I will be soon.
  17. rbirk

    rbirk Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 26, 1998
    Likes Received:
    I finally got to see the new version of FIddler on the Roof last weekend and this new version is a real treat. My older version was nice, but the supplements alone makes an upgrade necessary. I especiallylike the histroy background with pictures from the real people the stories are based on and the background information about that time and area.
    Ron Birk

Share This Page