One of my favorite movie musicals is Fiddler on the Roof. Our local PBS station plays the movie at least twice a year, and while we own the DVD, I always enjoy an opportunity to watch that movie on TV. Tonight as I was (am) watching it, I’ve realized that I always cry at the same spots, even though I know what’s going to happen, but I cry from a different perspective than I used to.
I think I might know why that is. When I first was introduced to the movie, I was a child, and I interpreted the events in the movie from the daughters’ perspectives. I felt the excitement of the girls as they fell in love. My heart broke for Tzeitel when her father made a match for her with the much-older butcher, and I was so happy for her when she got to marry the man she loved. My heart ached with the romance of the middle daughter, Hodel, leaving her family to go to Siberia where her fiance was in a prison camp. And I cried right along with Chava when her father turned his back on her for marrying outside of the Jewish faith.
But now I’m the parent of two daughters of my own, and I view the movie differently. Now I see the movie through the eyes of the parents. I cry through “Sunrise, Sunset” every time – someday that will be MY daughter getting married. I weep through “Far from the Home I Love” not because I can’t imagine leaving my family for a man, but because I can’t imagine either of my daughters leaving me to go into such a situation. And when I consider the fact that someday one of my daughters might fall in love with a man who doesn’t share her faith – well, that’s not a scenario I like to picture.
So, it seems that as I am aging growing older, Fiddler on the Roof is becoming a deeper and more meaningful movie for me. I cry every time, but the waterworks really come when I hear one of the final songs, “Chavala.” Oh, my, that just wrings my heartstrings every time. And that gorgeous violin music! Oh, it’s all just so emotion-laden.
It’s not a happy-go-lucky movie, and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but it’s probably the most real musical I’ve ever seen. It’s a fantastic movie, and if you have never seen it, I highly recommend it.