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Fiddler on the Roof: Special Edition

Director Norman Jewison's gritty 1971 screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof established the perfect style for musical survival in the cynical 1970s. Shot on location in the wintry former Yugoslavia, Fiddler is dirty, grainy, and full of life. Based on the short stories of Sholom Aleichem, the film tells the story of dairy farmer Tevye (Topol), eking out a humble existence in a remote shtetl in the turbulent Russia of the early 20th century. With five daughters to feed and a battling wife to appease, Tevye has his modest hands full. He dreams of being a rich man but is happy being poor, finding solace in his religion and the steady guide of tradition. Israeli-born Topol is astounding, and numbers like "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "If I Were a Rich Man," and "Sunrise, Sunset" are worthy classics. MGM's Fiddler on the Roof: Special Edition is presented in a good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) that is a marked improvement over the previous DVD release. The image quality is very good, but the source print has not been well preserved, showing wear throughout. The Dolby Digital 5.1 re-mix is the same as on previous DVD and Laserdisc versions, and for music recorded in 1970, sounds brilliant — although much of that is owed to John Williams' lively interpretation of Jerry Bock's excellent score. This is easily the best looking and sounding edition of Fiddler to arrive on home video. Special features include a commentary track with Jewison and Topol, an hour-long documentary Norman Jewison: Filmmaker, a series of short recollections by Jewison, the audio recording of deleted song "Any Day Now," a comparison between the full-color and desaturated versions of the "Tevye's Dream" sequence, Jewison reading aloud three of Sholom Aleichem's short stories accompanied by storyboard illustrations, Jewison reading about the historical background of the film accompanied by photographs collected in Ann Weiss' book The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a storyboard to film comparison, and TV spots and trailers. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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