DVD Review: Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles

STUDIO: Samuel Goldwyn | DIRECTOR: Max Lewkowicz
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 26, 2019 | PRICE: DVD $19.95
SPECS: PG-13 | 97 min. | Documentary

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

Fifty-five years after its Broadway debut, the musical Fiddler on the Roof still has a far-reaching influence and continues to go strong, even now in a scaled-down, off-Broadway version performed entirely in Yiddish and directed by former cast member Joel Grey (Cabaret).

This tribute to the play and the Norman Jewison (Rollerball) movie inspired by the stories about Tevye the dairyman by Sholem Aleichem, Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles offers a fairly complete, highly entertaining survey of the show’s impact through cast members, behind-the-scenes talent and those who have been influenced by the show over the years.

Newly filmed interviews and archival footage bring the saga of the Broadway smash to life. While there is commentary about and great footage of Zero Mostel, the original stage Tevye, and director Jeremy Robbins, who are both long gone, producer Hal Prince, composer Jeremy Bock, lyricist Sheldon Harnick and book author Joseph Stein grace the documentary with insightful interviews. (All but Harnick are no longer with us).

Director/co-writer Max Lewkowicz delves into the conception of the play, from the creation of the book and the music to the casting of Mostel (who was hired despite his sometimes difficult behavior) to the play’s vibrant choreography and production design, inspired by Marc Chagall’s paintings. Cast members in the current production speak of the show’s impact on them, along with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer Stephen Sondheim, writer Fran Lebowitz, former Broadway Tevyes Harvey Fierstein and Danny Burstein, and Tevye offspring Josh Mostel and Michael Bernardi (son of Herschel Bernardi).

The film smartly adds layers to the Fiddler story, visiting New York high school and international productions of the show, offering a brief, funny look at the variable recorded versions of “If I Were a Rich Man” and having director Norman Jewison and star Chaim Topol affectionately reminisce about the 1971 big screen adaptation, which was shot under difficult circumstances in Croatia and England.

Like its subject matter, Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles should become a tradition for musical theater fans to visit again and again.

Buy or Rent A Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.