Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles
Time Out says
Max Lewkowicz’s lovely doc looks at the past 55 years through a musical lens.
Most origin stories these days seem to involve superheroes. We’re much less used to them being middle-aged Jewish milkmen battling religious persecution in Imperial Russia. But that is the story of everyman Tevye, the hero of the enduringly popular ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. The cherished 1964 stage musical makes a cockle-warming subject for director Max Lewkowicz’s fascinating doc.
The film is packed with the usual behind-the-scenes moments, as stars from recent productions and serious musical luminaries share their ‘Fiddler’ memories. Norman Jewison, director of the Oscar-winning 1971 film version, recalls how he had to enlighten his producers that, while his name might suggest otherwise, he was actually a goy.
Oscar-winner Joel Grey talks about his recent production in Yiddish, a language he himself doesn’t speak. Lin-Manuel Miranda shares footage of a surprise ‘Fiddler’ number he performed with his father-in-law at his wedding reception.
But what elevates all this is the way that Lewkowicz builds on this to craft a history lesson for the twentieth century. He looks at the civil rights movement, religious segregation and the emancipation of women and explores how the inclusion of these themes in composer Jerry Bock and lyricist Sheldon Harnick’s musical has ensured that it continues to resonate across the world today.
This isn’t just a film for ‘Fiddler’ fans. You can enjoy it even if you’ve never hummed a note of ‘If I Were a Rich Man’. You’ll definitely be singing – and probably dancing – to it by the time the final credits roll.