Fiddler on the Roof – A Grand Day Out – tape 2107

This tape opens with the end of a programme called What Did You Do in the War, Auntie.

There’s a trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Then, Fiddler on the Roof, the film version of the classic musical about love, marriage, matchmaking and ethnic cleansing. I’ve seen the show performed – I was the prompt for an amateur production – but I’ve never watched the film.

It’s presented in widescreen format. Not quite the full Panavision width, but a lot better than the norm.

Widescreen

The film is the story of Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman in Russia, with five daughters, hoping to marry them off.

Topol

He meets Perchik, a stranger from outside the village, played by Paul Michael Glaser, Starsky himself. Perchik is a bit of a radical. When Tevye tells him about his five daughters, he says “Women are people too” and Tevye scoffs.

Paul Michael Glaser

The town butcher, Lazar Wolf, wants to marry his oldest daughter, Tzeitel, who would rather marry Mottle the tailor, but Mottle is poor, and Lazar is rich, so Tevye agrees to the match.

As they celebrate in the local tavern, they are joined by the local Russians – it’s clear there are tensions, but everyone dances and has a good time.

Dancing

Then, after, the local Russian constable tells Teyve that there’s to be a “little unofficial demonstration” in the town – a ‘minor pogrom’ against the Jewish community so that the Russian authorities can see that they are doing their part.

Perhaps this wasn’t the best choice of film to be watching on the day that Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban was enacted…

There’s a freaky dream sequence as Tevye worries about whether to make his daughter marry the butcher, or whether he should let her marry the tailor, who she’s in love with. It’s all a bit Carrie.

Dream Sequence

So the daughter gets married to the tailor, and Perchik, the radical, crosses the line between the men’s half and the women’s half of the room, asking why they shouldn’t be allowed to dance together. It’s all very revolutionary.

Men and Women, dancing together

But the happiness of the wedding is abruptly curtailed when the russian villagers arrive for their ‘demonstration’, turning over tables, hitting people, smashing windows and burning houses. “Orders are orders, you understand?” says the constable.

By the way, I’m watching this movie on DVD rather than from the digitised tape – it’s easier to watch them on the TV like this. At this point on the DVD there’s a five minute Entr’Acte – I presume the film was presented with an intermission – this was common with longer films. 2001 A Space Odyssey had one, as did Lawrence of Arabia. I’ve seen both of those films in the cinema, both presented with these intermissions. Strangely, the BBC presentation here has skipped the Entr’Acte altogether and goes straight into the first scene after the interval.

Perchik, the radical, hamfistedly proposes to Tevye’s second daughter, and she agrees. When they tell him, he’s again horrified. Isn’t it his job to decide who his daughters marry? But he reluctantly gives his blessing.

Perchik leaves for the city, trying to raise support for the revolution. He’s arrested and sent to Siberia. His fiancee Hodel goes to find him, and her song is one that always used to make me cry during performances of the show.

Far From the Home I Love

When his next daughter breaks the news that she’s in love with a young Russian boy – not even a Jew, it’s almost the last straw for him. He tells her he cannot see her again.

Then the constable arrives and tells the village they have three days to sell their homes and belongings, and leave the town.

Not a feelgood finale, it has to be said.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th December 1995 – 15:10

After this, there’s a trail for a Christmas episode of Shooting Stars, and Knowing Me Knowing Yule with Alan Partridge.

Then, Nick Park’s first Wallace and Gromit film A Grand Day Out. This was when BBC2 had a whole lot of lovely Wallace and Gromit idents.

Gromit

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th December 1995 – 18:00

After this, a trailer for TOTP2 and Jools’ Hootenanny. And a trailer for Arena: The Burger and The King.

Then, the tape runs out during an episode of Deep Space Nine, called Progress.

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