FIDDLER: MIRACLE OF MIRACLES – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles is the first in-depth documentary film that chronicles the life and themes of this iconic Broadway musical. “The goal of our documentary,” says director Max Lewkowicz “is to understand why the story of Tevye the milkman is reborn again and again as beloved entertainment and cultural touchstone the world over.”
With the use of footage from most of the pivotal Broadway productions and behind the scenes photos of the original cast as they created the musical, this documentary (excuse the pun) sings the praises of its creators. The people still alive from the original team of creatives don’t hold back about how hard it was to create this musical.
That said, Fiddler on The Roof is an unlikely work to have captured the world’s imagination. It was the first major musical on the American stage to feature not one American character, telling of the trials and tribulations of a venerated Jewish milkman trying to eke out a living in a small Jewish shtetl in Czarist Russia.
Opening in 1964, Fiddler on the Roof held the record for the longest-running musical for almost 10 years, won nine Tony Awards, and spawned five Broadway revivals. The show is still performed more than any other show, from middle schools in inner cities to high schools in rural America, around the world from grand state theaters in Japan and Vienna to Johannesburg and Mexico City.
The film shows one of its creators talking about the first Japanese production of the musical. At intermission, he was asked “Do American audiences understand this musical? Because it is so Japanese.” That speaks to one of the reasons so many people from all over the world have called it their favorite musical. The film that was made seven years later at a time in our country’s history where everything especially women’s roles were changing was a hit as well played in some countries for three and four years straight. I am glad that the documentary covered the making of the film as well.
Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles is not a perfect film. There are times it wanders too far into the politics of the time the musical was created and current times, appearing a little heavy-handed but coming from a kind heart. Nonetheless, this is a must-see documentary for anyone who loves the musical or the film that was made of it. You will be thrilled to see all that it took to bring this gem to life. I give this an A rating because of the obvious love for its topic. Also, stay past the credits because there is a sweet coda at the very end.
Directed by Max Lewkowicz
Written by Max Lewkowicz, Valerie Thomas
Selig Rating A
Running Time 1hr 32min
Limited Release Sept. 6th The Angelika Film Center & Cafe Dallas and Plano
Starring: Michael Bernardi, Jerry Bock, Danny Burnstein, Gurinder Chadha, Harvey Feinstein, Joel Grey, Lin-Manuel Miranda
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.