Posted: 04/09/2011

 

Fiddler on the Roof on Blu-ray

(1971)

by Jef Burnham



Now available in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from MGM Home Entertainment.


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To commemorate the 40th anniversary of director Norman Jewison (In the Heat of the Night, Moonstruck) Academy-Award-nominated musical, MGM brings Fiddler on the Roof to home video as never before, in stunning HD!

The film tells the tale of Tevye (Topol), a Jewish milkman in Czarist Russia, struggling to protect and provide for his family amidst rampant persecution of his people. All the while, each of his eldest three daughters in turn pursues marriage in a way that increasingly challenges their people’s traditions. In Topol’s portrayal of Tevye, the character’s desperation at his own powerlessness is stirringly palpable. Perhaps nowhere does the strength of his performance shine through more than in the film’s beautiful rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man.”

At three hours long, the film can seem a daunting task to the modern viewer. But with expert craftsmanship on the part of Jewison, the film moves forward at an incredible clip, and it’s over much too soon. More and more, I find myself captivated by the gorgeous cinematography by Oswald Morris that so captures the sprawling beauty of the Yugoslavian countryside. And working from a surprisingly clean print, MGM’s HD transfer of the film captures said cinematography in such a way that it seems the previous DVDs were only hinting at the film’s greatness. Moreover, the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio provides a striking dynamic between the film’s dialogue and its musical numbers that allows the numbers to stand out as never before on home video.

The majority of the special features included on the Blu-ray were previously available on the various DVD releases of the film, with the majority accounted for on the 2007 DVD release. The special features include:

-Audio commentary by Jewison and Topol;

-Norman Jewison, Filmmaker, a 50-minute documentary from 1971 that follows a frazzled Jewison on the set of Fiddler;

-“Norman Jewison Looks Back”, Jewison recounts his experiences looking back in talking-head interview vignettes.;

-“John Williams: Creating a Musical Tradition;”

-“Songs of Fiddler on the Roof;”

-Deleted song: “Any Day Now;”

-“Tevye’s Daughters;”

-“Set in Reality: Production Design;”

-Storyboard-to-film comparison;

-Tevye’s dream sequence presented in full color, with introduction by Norman Jewison;

-and teasers, trailers, and TV spots.

The DVD included in this set boasts only the commentary with Jewison and Topol by way of special features.

Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.



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