Review: Fiddler On the Roof Blu-ray

STUDIO: MGM/Fox | DIRECTOR: Norman Jewison | CAST: Topol, Norma Crane, Paul Michael Glaser, Molly Picon, Leonard Frye, Rosalind Harris
RELEASE DATE: 4/5/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD combo $29.99
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes, deleted song, interviews, much more
SPECS: G | 181 min. | Musical | 2.34:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 | English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, German, Norwegian, Italian, Hebrew, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, Finnish and Greek subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Fiddler on the Roof movie scene

Topol is on the lookout for tradition in Fiddler on the Roof.

It’s always a pleasure to see and hear 1971’s Academy Award-winning Fiddler On the Roof, Norman Jewison’s (The Cincinatti Kid) adaptation of the hit Broadway musical — and even more so with MGM’s just-released Blu-ray edition of the film.

First off, the visual presentation of this classic movie is outstanding! But, as Fiddler is a legendary musical, let’s talk about the disc’s audio presentation, a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix that puts the wonderful music and lyrics by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick on such a towering and elegant pedestal that I found myself proclaiming “L’Chaim.”

The orchestrations (adapted and conducted by John Williams) are wonderfully presented, as are all the surrounding sounds of Anatevka, the turn-of-the-century Russian village where the story is set. So, you clearly but unobtrusively hear thechickens clucking, tailors tailoring and butcher’s butchering. What threw me off a little was a slight variation in audio quality/volume whenever a song came on, probably due to the fact that they were all dubbed into the film during post-production. It’s an unfortunate side effect to the wonders of high-definition remastering and “lossless” audio quality, but it’s a small price to pay for audio superiority.

All the special features that were available on MGM‘s previous DVD editions from the past decade are on the Blu-ray, including an anecdote-filled commentary by Jewison and star Topol (they were recorded separately), a bunch of featurettes, an audio take of the excised Russian-flavorded song “Any Day Now,” a full-color version of “Tevye’s Dream” and much more.

My favorite bit?  Jewison relating how he responded to United Artist chief Arthur Krim when he was offered the chance to direct the film: “What would you say if I told you I was a goy?,” he queried.

For what it’s worthy, the not-quite-Jewish Jewison further proved his diversity with his very next film project: 1973’s Jesus Christ Superstar.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.