Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

In Norman Jewison's film adaptation of the beloved Broadway musical and based upon Sholom Aleichem's stories, during the pre-Revolutionary period in Russia (1905), about a Jewish peasant with three marriageable daughters:

  • the entire opening/titles sequence, set in the Ukranian ghetto village of Anatevka as the sun rose - and the opening words of poor Jewish-Russian peasant milkman in a small Ukranian village in pre-Revolutionary Russia - the life-affirming Tevye (Topol) as he began his route to deliver milk: ("A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof. Trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous? Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word! Tradition!...Because of our traditions, we've kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything. How to sleep. How to eat. How to work. How to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition get started? I'll tell you. I don't know. But it's a tradition. And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do")
  • the ending of the joyous and lively song/dance "Tradition" about the conflict between traditional values and modern industrial changes: ("Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions our lives would be as shaky as... as a fiddler on the roof!"); Tevye pointed to a fiddler on the roof in the dawning reddish sun, before the credits played
  • Tevye's song: "If I Were a Rich Man" - his dreams of wealth: ("If I were a rich man. Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum All day long I'd biddy biddy bum. If I were a wealthy man..."), when he found out that his milk-cart horse was lame
  • the singing of "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" by Teyve's five daughters (three were marriageable), who were speculative about what news would be brought by the village's traditional matchmaker Yente (Molly Picon)
  • the scene of the Jewish wedding of Tevye's eldest daughter Tzeitel (Rosalind Harris) and her childhood friend, poor tailor Motel Kamzoil (Leonard Frey), and the wistful song of Tevye and his wife Golde (Norma Crane) during the ceremony: "Sunrise, Sunset" ("Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don't remember growing older. When did they? When did she get to be a beauty? When did he grow to be so tall? Wasn't it yesterday when they were small? Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly flow the days. Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers. Blossoming even as we gaze")

"If I Were a Rich Man"

"Matchmaker, Matchmaker"

"Sunrise, Sunset"


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