Fiddler On The Roof, 40th Anniversary 2-Disc Set, Blu-ray (1971/2011)
Starring: Topol, Leonard Frey, Theodore Bikel, Paul Michael Glaser, Molly Picon
Director/Producer: Norman Jewison
Studio: MGM [4/5/11]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 color 1080p HD
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (DD 5.1 on DVD)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Extras: Commentary track by Topol and Norman Jewison, “Norman Jewison, Filmmaker” featurette, “Norman Jewison Looks Back,” “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 with comparison and intro by Norman Jewison, Trailers/ teasers/TV spots
Length: 181 minutes
One of the very best film musicals you could find, and 40 years later it still stands as a masterpiece, appealing even to those who don’t like musicals, in its glorious Blu-ray remastering. All the extras are on the Blu-ray disc, thought I didn’t have time to check them out, but it is nice to have the second disc be a standard DVD for the many places that can be used. The film was nominated at the time for eight Academy awards.
The production used many of those involved in the original Broadway musical, and Topol – the central character of Fiddler – makes a really wonderful Papa. The songs are well integrated into the story and the sets and costumes look quiet believable. Tevye – a poor milkman in the Jewish settlement – has to deal with the marrying off of the three oldest of his five daughters and the greater challenges presented by trying to eke out a living and life in Czarist Russia. I’d forgotten about the emphasis on the pogroms and anti-Semitism, which are most touching.
The wonderful music of the musical comes thru deliciously on the up to 7.1 channel lossless DTS surround, with an orchestra and chorus conducted by John Williams. Isaac Stern contributed the fiddle playing for the fiddler of the title who appears at the opening and closing of the film. I did notice a few small artifacts in the Blu-ray transfer. There were occasional cross-hatching patterns in the blue skies, which I had never seen before in any transfers (but then I wasn’t wearing my new distance glasses at the time either). The focus was sometimes a bit soft, but still better than you see in most multiplexes.
— John Sunier