BALDWIN: Fiddler plays on the roof and in cinemas

Shalom my hardworking, loyal cinephiles of Winchester!

Traditions are vital to our belief system through symbolism and serve special significance with the origins of our past.

We are introduced to our traditions, be it family or ethnic background, at a young age.

Like everything else, teenage years come along and light a fuse of hormonal rebellion, and these much-cherished familial traditions are scoffed at for the mere argument that they are old, outdated and lack relevance in our modern world.

Youth revolting against traditions is nothing new and is a topic for reflection in the Oscar-winning film “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971).

“Fiddler on the Roof” is a popular musical set in pre-revolutionary Russia in the rural Ukrainian village of Anatevka in 1905.

Our guide through the village is milkman Tevye, portrayed by Chaim “Flash Gordon” Topol.

Tevye talks directly to the screen and includes us in his talks with God and his deep feelings on the importance of tradition, the stress of marrying off his daughters, hardships that come with being poor and the fear of his Jewish community coming under attack.

Though that may sound like a drag hearing about the stress of Tevye’s life peppered deep with political, social and religious context, it is far from it.

“Fiddler” is an upbeat, comical production that is rich in detail, choreography and honesty within the first half of the film though there is unwelcoming intimidation of the Czarist officials looming in the background that march in the second half.

“Fiddler” was directed by filmmaker Norman “Rollerball” Jewison with the screenplay by Joseph Stein, who also penned the book and smash-hit Broadway play of the same name in 1964.

“Fiddler” was the novel, stage and big-screen adaptation of Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye and His Daughters” in 1894.

“Fiddler” has remained popular since its original Broadway production in 1964 and has had many revivals up until 2019, with a rumored big-screen remake to be greenlit for a release sometime when the world returns to normal.

“Fiddler” is a pop-culture staple and referenced over the years in other productions because of the memorable music such as “Tradition,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” and the catchy chest swaying ditty, “If I Were a Rich Man.”

“Fiddler” is a reminder that with all of the modern “upgrades,” daily stressors and external forces within the world, what grounds us are the traditions that we learned from our families and our people.

Traditions are not to be scoffed at for their contemporary importance, they are to be honored just for the fact of being.

Traditions should be held on to like we do our personal integrity, self-worth and sense of survival. When all else fails, you will always have your values and traditions for support.

“Fiddler on the Roof” will be returning to screens at the Cinemark Fayette Mall and Cinemark at Richmond Centre at noon and 5 p.m. Dec. 13 and at 7 p.m. Dec. 14.

L’chaim and have a film-tastic day… ya ba dibba dibba dibba dibba dibba dibba dum! 

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society. Find more from Rick on Facebook. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79  and can be reached by email at