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TMP Reviews: Fiddler on the Roof on Blu-ray!

The Movie Pool celebrates the release of the classic Fiddler on the Roof - The 40th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray!

BLU-RAY SPECS
ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1 enhanced for widescreen TVs
RUNNING TIME: 181 minutes
RATING: G
AUDIO: English 7.1 DTS HD-Master Audio, Spanish Mono, Fench 5.1 DTS
SUBTITLES: English for the Deaf and Heard of Hearing, French, Spanish
AUDIO COMMENTARY: Participants include director Norman Jewison and actor Topol
SPECIAL FEATURES: "Norman Jewison, Filmmaker" Documentary, "Norman Jewison Looks Back" Featurette, "John Williams: Making a Musical Tradition" Featurette, "The Songs of Fiddler on the Roof" Featurette, Deleted song, "Tevye's Daughters" Featurette, "Set in Reality" Production Design Featurette, Storyboard Featurette, "Tevye's Dream Sequence" Featurette, Trailers and TV Spots.

The Blu-ray edition also includes a standard edition DVD of the film. It is the 2007 DVD release of the film with the audio commentary included.

 

Fiddler on the Roof

 

THE SET-UP

A Jewish farmer and those around him turn to song to deal with the adversities of life in czarist Russia.

 

THE DELIVERY

I must admit, I'm not a big fan of musicals, but I love Fiddler on the Roof. In any good musical, the songs are a natural extension of the characters' feelings. In Fiddler, the music is as important as Tevye and the other characters; it propels the story and gives us insight into each character's motivations.

It also helps that the songs for Fiddler are exceptional. Songs like "Matchmaker" and "If I Were A Rich Man" have entered our pop culture lexicon. Today, forty years after the film adaptation of the Broadway play premiered, Fiddler is no less entertaining, no less touching, and no less inspiring than it was back then. Musicals tend not to age well, but Fiddler on the Roof's affirmation of the resiliency of the human spirit makes it timeless. Even though it is three hours long, I never once looked at my watch while viewing the film again. This is truly a wonderful film, the likes of which we don't see much anymore.

 

Fiddler on the Roof

 

VIDEO AND AUDIO

This is the first release of Fiddler on Blu-ray, and the high-definition transfer used here is incredible. For a forty year old film, the quality is first-rate. There is a level of detail here that was likely not even seen originally in theaters. There is hardly any notice of scratches, dirt and lint on the print; it is incredibly clean and vivid. There is a small amount of grain evident, but it hardly detracts from the presentation.

For this release, a new 7.1 DTS-HD audio mix is included, which gives the music and dialogue depth and richness. It may not be as active or as wide-ranging as sound mixes for newer films, but it is perfect for this presentation.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES

Nearly all of the special features are brought over from the 2007 DVD special edition. The extras from that DVD are so good, I don't mind that there isn't much newly-produced material for the Blu-ray. Seriously, for a movie that's 40 years old, there isn't much more that isn't already covered. The audio commentary with Jewison and Topol is extremely insightful and provides some great anecdotes. Jewison, for example, admits that he sent money overseas to pay for the care of the old horse used by Topol in the film. It was saved from the glue factory to appear in the movie and lived the rest of his life on a peaceful farm. It's also extremely interesting to hear Topol talk about his experiences.

The featurettes here are hardly fluff. The "Norman Jewison, Filmmaker" documentary (made at the time of the film's production) features the director making some very candid statements about the Hollywood system and catches him on the set dealing with one little problem after another. It is a fascinating watch, especially if you only know Jewison by name and reputation. There are even new interviews with Jewison that provide a nice bookend. There are plenty of interviews with other cast members and behind-the scenes looks to satisfy any fan. Fans of John Williams will also enjoy his featurette, especially since he doesn't do many interviews or provide insight into the scoring process.

 

Fiddler on the Roof

 

BUY IT, REDBOX IT, OR NETFLIX IT?

This is a Blu-ray everyone should own. A musical masterpiece is given the video and audio presentation it deserves, and includes a large number of special features that make this a must-own for any movie library. Don't let its age or the fact that it is a musical without car chases or explosions deter you. This is a beautiful film that should be seen at least once a year to cleanse the palate of the sour taste of today's underwhelming blockbusters.

Fiddler on the Roof: The 40th Anniversary Blu-ray is now available in stores and online.

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