Fiddler On The Roof Parent Guide
An inspiring musical celebration of family, faith, community and the resilience of the human spirit.
Parent Movie Review
In pre-revolutionary Russia, a Jewish family’s existence is as precarious as a fiddler on the roof. While trying to scratch out some sort of melody in his life, Tevye (Topol), a poor dairy farmer, keeps his balance by clinging to his religious traditions while providing for his five daughters. Genially he converses with God, wondering if it would “spoil some vast eternal plan, if he were a wealthy man.”
When the financially secure Lazar Wolf (Paul Mann) asks to marry his eldest daughter Tzeitel (Rosalind Harris), Tevye eagerly accepts the proposal, believing the arrangement will ensure she always has the comforts of life. Unfortunately the bride-to-be does not share her mother’s (Norma Crane) rejoicing at the announcement. Contrary to convention and with no regard for riches, Tzeitel wishes to choose her own husband.
Placing his daughter’s happiness before honoring his promise will require Tevye to sidestep custom and devise an elaborate lie to excuse breaking off the engagement. Although his compromise is a small departure from the old ways, it reflects the revolutionary spirit that is marching across Russia, tiptoeing into even the obscure village of Anatevka where his family resides. But efforts to regain his familiar footing become more difficult with the romantic interests of his second and third daughters (Michele Marsh, Neva Small), and the acceleration of religious persecution threatening to eliminate their Jewish community.
Based on the short stories of Sholom Aleichem, and receiving recognition first as a stage play, Fiddler on the Roof chronicles the flood of change that pours into this humble milkman’s life, eroding much of what he took for granted and reshaping his future. Forced to reevaluate everything from his understanding of love and marriage, to his religious commitment, Tevye’s abundance of good humor, long standing relationship with God, and moments of profound insight (despite his lack of education), help him rise to each new challenge.
Enhanced by musical numbers that move the story from light-hearted to heart wrenching, Fiddler on the Roof captures the universal struggle to preserve faith, family, and friendship. While these complex themes, some violence connected with the political conflict, and the fantastical depiction of a nightmare may be too much for very young viewers, for the rest of the family this film’s inspiring celebration of the tenacity of the human spirit is sure to appeal to Jew and Gentile alike.Directed by Norman Jewison . Starring Topol, Norma Crane. Running time: 181 minutes. Theatrical release November 3, 1971. Updated March 22, 2020
Watch the trailer for Fiddler On The Roof
Fiddler On The Roof
Rating & Content Info
Why is Fiddler On The Roof rated G? Fiddler On The Roof is rated G by the MPAA
Overall: A This 1971 three Academy Awards winner follows the fate of a Jewish family whose traditional way of life, family ties, and religious commitment are challenged by the pre-revolutionary environment of Russia. It beautifully illustrates the power of love and humor in the face of unwanted change.
Violence: B Squabbling and raised voices between villagers, and spouses. Comedic mention of abusive husband in song lyrics. Nightmare sequence includes depiction of ghosts in a graveyard, ghostly hands come out of grave and a jealous spirit demonstrates a threat to choke someone. Mobsters destroy property, set buildings and cart on fire, and smash windows. Men scuffle, one is hit on head with candlestick. Soldiers draw swords and attack crowd-people flee and some bodies fall.
Sexual Content: A- Concern briefly mentioned over young couple spending time together. Young women shown in slips (underclothes). Men tease and touch the face of a young woman. Men and women break convention and dance together. Engaged couples hug and brush cheeks.
Language: A- Man falsely accused of calling a woman a cow. Jews called Christ killers. Terms of Deity used as proper nouns.
Alcohol / Drug Use: C Wine drunk in religious observances. Two main characters become intoxicated. Bar scene depicting celebrating men drinking to excess. Drinking at a wedding. One depiction of a minor character smoking.
Page last updated March 22, 2020
Fiddler On The Roof Parents' Guide
During a conversation one character pronounces money to be the world’s curse. Tevye retorts, "If riches are a curse, may God smite me with it, and may I never recover!" Considering all that transpires during the course of the story, would riches have improved Tevye’s situation? Were things any easier for the wealthy Lazar Wolf?
Wirily Tevye makes reference to being God’s chosen people, and asks him "Once in a while can’t you choose someone else?" Although the circumstances the Jews have to face appear harsh, knowing the eventual fate of religious freedom in Russia, is it possible that God was being mindful of the residents of Anatevka?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Fiddler on the Roof is based on Tevye and His Daughters and Tevye the Dairyman. Set in Imperial Russia in 1905, the stories were written by Sholem Aleichem.
Naomi Novik’s fantasy novel Spinning Silver tells the story of Miryem, a Jewish moneylender’s daughter in a winter kingdom similar to Russia. The story celebrates Miryem’s courage and devotion to her parents, large extended family, and community.
Suitable for small children, Phoebe Gilman’s picture book Something from Nothing adapts a Yiddish folktale. In this story Joseph’s grandfather keeps remaking a blanket into one useful item after another. The story celebrates thrift, skill, and the changing times of a large Jewish family.
Joann Sfar’s graphic novel The Rabbi’s Cat is set in 1930s Algeria. A rabbi’s cat has eaten the canary and gained the power of speech, which he uses to debate the Torah with his master. Wry humor and rich illustrations make this book a favourite of teen and adult readers.
The most recent home video release of Fiddler On The Roof movie is January 7, 2014. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Fiddler on the Roof
Release Date: 7 January 2014
As part of its 90th Anniversary Celebration, MGM is releasing Fiddler on the Roof on Blu-ray.
Blu-ray Notes: Fiddler on the Roof
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Fiddler on the Roof releases to Blu-ray with the following special features:
- Audio commentary by Director Norman Jewison and star Topol
- Deleted Song
- Historical background
DVD Notes: Fiddler on the Roof: 2-Disc Collectors Edition
Release Date: January 23, 2007
Get to know Anatevka even better than Yente the matchmaking gossip, with this 2-Disc Collector’s Edition of Fiddler on the Roof. Disc one presents the feature film plus an informative audio commentary by producer/director Norman Jewison and actor Topol (who plays Tevye). As they explain each scene fans will learn everything from why Topol’s Jewish Russian grandfather was responsible for landing him this part to the fate of Tevye’s lame horse. Disc two provides numerous bonus materials such as: deleted scenes and the deleted song Any Day Now, a documentary about the filmmaker Norman Jewison, the Easter Egg The Tale of the Beggar, an interview with John Williams called Creating a Musical Tradition, interviews with the cast members who played Tevye’s daughters, photo galleries, and the movie’s trailer. The following featurettes are also included: Historical Background with Photographs by Ann Weiss, Norman Jewison Looks Back, Set In Reality, Tevye’s Dream in Full Color, The Songs of Fiddler on the Roof, and The Songs of Sholam Aleichem. Audio tracks are available in English (Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround) and Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), with subtitles in English and Spanish.
Related home video titles:
The documentary Paper Clips follows the experiences of a group of middle school students in a small town in Tennessee as they study the holocaust in order to understand prejudice and tolerance.
A similar plot is explored in Freedom Writers
Denial , starring Rachael Weisz and Timothy Spall, focuses on the modern problems associated with denial of Jewish struggles and the Holocaust specifically.