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October 18, 1972 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1972-10-18

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Wednesdgy, October 18, 1972


Page Three

Wednesday, October 18, 1972 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Three

Myth, Symbol and Transcendence:
The Theme of Nazi Concentration
Camps in French Literature
Lecture Room 2, MLB October 19,4:10 P.M.

Fiddler appeals to all


before the
o f

True: producer - director Nor-
man Jewison didn't have to start
from scratch. Since its premiere
in 1964, 35,000,000 people in 32
countries have applauded the
stage production of Fiddler on
- the Roof. It appeals to some-
thing in everyone: its theme of
tradition versus change, its bit-
tersweet humor, its lively char-
acters, its. often catchy, often
beautiful music.
Jewison had already chalked
up a number of successful and
well-done motion pictures, in-
cluding The Russians Are Com-
ing The Russians Are Coming,
In the Heat of the Night and
The Thomas Crown Affair. Add-
ing: these to his earlier experi-
ence in directing musical shows
and television specials, he was
certainly prepared to bring Fid-
dler to the screen.
Jewison, however, did more'
than record a Broadway hit on
cellulose. A film cannot pre-
sent live bodies on a platform in
front of an audience. But a play
cannot offer the emphasis and
detail uniquely available to the
camera of a well-directed, well-
edited film.
Thematically, Fiddler has a
lot to say. Tradition punctuates
the tale throughout, beginning
with an exclamation point. The
opening number not only intro-

duces the characters and sets
the scene in a small Czarist Rus-
sian village; it also presents
certain role definitions and estab-
lishes tradition as the one sta-
bilizing force in an'unstable
world. "Without tradition," says
Tevye, the philosophizing milk-
man, "our lives would be as
shaky as . . . as a fiddler on the
Tradition often appears as a
given, in parentheses, from the
Sabbath candles to the waddling
matchmaker. But the givens give
way to the challenge of change.
Three daughters approach Tevye
with non-traditional approaches
to marriage. Each time, the de-
manded change is more drastic,
and tradition is suddenly an un-
avoidable question mark.
Finally,. when the villagers
must leave their homes, tradi-
tion becomes an ellipsis . . . a
"to be continued" somehow,
somewhere. To put it simply, the
theme of Fiddler on the Roof is
Tradition!()??? . . .
Fiddler as a motion picture is
an experience quite different
from the play, however, because
scene by scene and shot by shot,
Jewison welds this theme of tra-
dition to his filmic techniques.
Use of imagery, treatment of
motion and space, rhythms
within a scene and pacing
throughout the film - in all of



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FILM SPECIAL - UAC presents tonight at 8, 10 in Power,
The Beatles: Away with words, a multi-media presen-
tation using 26 separate projectors operated by com-
puter and a 360 degree sound system. An experimental
"journey into your soul" that pays homage to musical
THEATRE-The Streetcorner Society of East Lansing pre-
sents "The Woman Play at Bursley tonight at 7:30.
FILMS:-Cinema Guild presents tonight at 7, 9:05 in Arch.
Aud. Nights of Cabiria. About this film, Daily reviewer
Richard Glatzer writes:
Frederico Fellini's bittersweet tale of an innocent
prostitute Cabiria (Giulietta Masina) who constantly is
victimized, yet never becomes cynical. The movie is quite
predictable, a situation that can do nothing but repeat
itself until the film's beautiful ending. But the ending
is -worth waiting for, and while Giulietta Masina (Mrs.
Fellini) is a very limited actress, she's nevertheless
touching-kind of like a puppy.
Ann Arbor Film Coop presents tonight in Aud. A at
7, 9:30, Red Desert. About this film, Daily reviewer Larry
Lempert writes:
Antonioni tells the tale of a woman coming to terms
with a barren world and with the disorder within her.
He tells it visually, and the serious viewer must watch
carefully for repeated images, camera movements,
choice of settings, use of color, and varying degrees of

these, content and form, as in
the best works of art, are insep-
The fiddler himself stands as
the most compelling image,
Tradition!())??? . . . Fiddling,
beckoning, perched on the roof
or on a hilltop, silhouetted
against a red and gold sky or
against the graying sky of a
frozen steppe.
In terms of imagery and rhy-
thm, the integration of the mu-
sical score is especially reward-
ing. For those who wince at the
beyond-the-call-of-duty suspen-
sion of belief required when a
character on stage suddenly
bursts into song, many of the
numbers have been treated with
great subtlety.
No chorus dances through the
village in the opening number,
"Tradition." Voices sing off-
screen while the villagers go
about their daily chores, fulfill-
ing the roles that the lyrics de-
Adding emphasis, the washing,
meatchopping and sawing are all
carefully synchronized to the
song's rhythm; between verses,
stills of vital Jewish symbols-
the Eternal Light, the synagogue,
the tablet of the Ten Command-
ments - flash on the screen in
time to the music. By the end of
the number, deft editing has
brought us through an entire day
in Anatevka and has given us a
necessary taste of the Jewish
tradition so central to life in
that village.
At other times, the character
on screen is indeed singing. But
Jewison's transitions, artfully
smooth throughout the film, shift
us gracefully into the number.
Lazar Wolf and Tevye toast
their agreement on the engage-
ment of Tevye's eldest; they
toast it again, and again. The
pace quickens as they begin to
sing, march arm and arm out
into the night and down to the
tavern where their compatriots
join the celebration. The pace
continues to accelerate as they
sing, they dance - and we are
in the midst of a number "L'
The physical setting, like the
music, is skillfully integrated. At
times it provides a touch of
irony, as when Tevye gaily
dances his way through "If I
Were a Rich Man" with chick-
ens and geese fluttering around
him and, upon occasion, the
camera pointedly glancing over
his shoulder at the simple barn
floor below.
The setting can also induce
emotions to coincide with events
being portrayed. When the skin-
ny tailor Motel has assured his
marriage to Tzeitel, despite
Tevye's agreement with Lazar
Wolf, the screen is suddenly
color - green leaves, white
birch: and movement - running,
jumping, falling. Rapid move-
ment through brightly colored
space vividly expresses the emo-
tional release of the moment.
Just as vividly, the setting can
express pain or the loneliness of
separatin. As Hodel, the sec-
ond damghter, leaves to join her
husband-to-be in Siberia, Tevye
stands as a tiny figure, alone in
t'e barren expanse of steppe that
fills the screen.
Film, as a medium, lends it-
self especially well to emphasis
and detail - the techniques are

Joseph Gurt


Danny Stevenson Trio;
Bob Detwiler, Duo
Willis Patterson, Bass
Lesley Guinn, Boritone

endless and Jewison uses them
In "L'Chaim," for example.
In the midst of the tumult, a
loud snap, sudden quiet and the
camera rests upon one hand -
the hand of a Russian, out-
stretched to Tevye, taunting
him to break the traditional bar-
rier, to join hands with a non-
Jew. From here, the scene rises
and falls in intensity, builds to a
pitch and ends emphatically in a
freeze - Tevye's face, dripping
with beer, widely grinning to a
final, rousing "To life!"
Considerations of details go
hand in hand with the matter of
emphasis. When Tevye sings
about the time he could devote
to religious endeavors if he
were wealthy, the camera moves
us so close to his expression of
bliss that 'we can see the mois-
ture between his teeth. And
that's close enough to see that
this would indeed be "the sweet-
est thing of all."
Jewison's camera, in fact, fo-
citses again and 'again on indi-
vidual faces. This technique
more than any other gives the
viewer that rewarding sense of
In the final number, "Anatev-
ka," the villagers prepare to
leave the only life they have
ever known. They stand still, si-
lent, while the camera moves
from face to face. Young and
old faces, stony or close to tears,
resolute or questioning and be-
wildered. And we in the audi-
ence, even those of us in the
back row, see each face and be-
gin to feel what each character
Like the focus on faces, suner-
imnosition is selectively employ-
ed to present simultaneous view-
points in a way that would be
impossible on the stage. Jewison
uses the techniane often but al-
ways to good effect. Examples
abound: Tevye's face, one man
in his home greeting the Sabbath
with his family, at the same
time, an entire village with Sab-
bath lights in each home. Or
Tevye's face, one man stunned
-asking, begging Why? - as
behind the image of that face,
Russians terrorize the Jewish
homes of Anatevka.
Other effects add to the treat-
ment of soecial scenes. When
Tzeitel and Motel ask for per-
mission to marry, Tevye has to
think it over. Jewison expresses
this mental withdrawal filmic-
ally: Tevye talks to himself, his
face in the foreground, while the
two lovers stand in the back-
ground, suddenly distant, out of
focus.. When the decision is
made, the normal perspective is
restored. Jewison repeats the
effect when the second and
third daughters confront their-
Jewison's technique adds a
whole new dimension to Fiddler.
But the film naturally inherits
much of its charm from the or-
iginal, most notably in the char-
acter of Tevye, his conversa-
tions with God, his misquotes

from the "Good Book." "Send
us the cure," he tells his friend,
andt maker with a knowing
glance upward, "we've got the
sickness already."
The film inherits certain
weaknesses as well. The second
act, musically, is weaker than
the first. and carries more than
its fair share of the plot's heav-
ier implications. The character
of Chava, the, third daughter
whose love for a non-Jew causes
the greatest pain of all, is not
developed asfully as the sig-
nificance of her role demands.
Neither of these drawbacks, if
that is what they are, has drawn,
anyone back from the stage ver-
sion, and they do little to harm
the film.
While the acting is excellent
throughout, Topol as Tevye can
easily garner the attention and
affection of any audience. His
expressions, his movements, his
intonations, his glances upward
-all are perfect.
The daughters perform well,
with exception of Chava, who
probably appears over-dramatic
only because the screenplay
places too great a burden upon
her. Golde is not the Jewish
mother some might hope her to
be, but she is the strong veter-



an of a hard life, feeling deeply
but never spilling her emotions.
(After twenty-five years of mar-
riage, her husband asks, "Do
you love me?" Pressed for an
answer, she finally admits, "I
suppose I do."
Less prominent characters
are also well-portrayed, from the
clumsy tailor Motel who finally
earns the praise of Tevye and
his mother-in-law as "a real per-
son," to the elderly Rabbi, al-
ways on the verge of tottering
over but stable enough to dis-
pense wisescounsel when called
As the whole it is meant to be,
Fiddler joins the direction, the
material and the acting happily
together. It is a G-rated pitcure,
a family film but, believe it or
not, a work of art.
One word of caution is in or-
der. Recently, many directors,
critics and students of film have
come to believe what French
film-maker Jean-Pierre Gorin
expressed in a recent appear-
ance here. "People are still
reading films," he complained,
"they are not seeing them."
Go to this movie, and see it.
Fiddler on the Roof has a lot to
say. It also has a lot to see.
8:00 2 Carol Burnett
7 Paul Lynde
5eA Public Affair/Election '72
50 Dragnet
8:30 7 Movie
"A Great American Tragedy"
well - paid aerospace engineer
faces unemployment.
50 Merv Griffin
56 Playhouse New York
9:00 2 Medical Center
9:30 9 All Outdoors
10:00 2 Cannon
4 To be announced
7 Julie Andrews
9 News, Weather, sports
50 Perry Mason
56 Soul!
10:30 9 Nightbeat
11:00 2 4 7 News, Weather, sports
9 Cheaters
50 Mancini Generation
11:30 2 Movie
"Where the Bullets Fly" (1966)
Super - suave secret agent
faces all disasters.
4 Johnny Carson
7 Dick Cavett
9 Movie
"The Outsider" (1967) TV pilot
about private detective sus-
pected of murder.
50 Movie
"Lafayette Escadrille" (1958)
American boy leaves home to
the Foreign Legion.
1 :00 4 7 News
1:30 2 Movie
"Loan Shark" (1952) Ex-con-
vict exposes vicious loan shark
3:00 2 News
The Confidence Keepers"



t.\ .

6:00 2 4 7 News, Weather, Sports
9 Eddie's Father
50 Flintstones
Maggie and the Beautiful Machine
6:30 2 4 7 News
9 Jeannie
50 Gilligan's Island
56 Making Things Grow
7:00 2 Truth or Consequences
4 World Series Pre-Game Show
7 To Teell the Truth
. Pro Hockey
50 I Love Lucy
56 Zoom
7:15 4 World Series
7:30 2 What's My Line?
7 Wild Kingdom
50 Hogan's Heroes
56 Consumer Game
Boogie Woogie Red f
217SASH 2PiR,-2AM



FRIDAY, OCT. 27-8:00 P.M.
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