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« Life Imitates Blog | Main | Farblondzhet »

February 07, 2005



You know, it's a shame FIDDLER has become a schmaltz icon. It's an amazing achievement, all the more so for being a musical -- one that reaches the pinnacle of the art form, because the music becomes so intricately a part of plot, setting and character, that you don't sit there and wonder, "Why is this idiot breaking into song?!"

BTW, I loved your posts on name-dropping in L.A. So I thought I'd throw this in: Sheldon Harnick is a distant cousin of mine!! That and $4 will get me a grande latte at Starbucks.

It's great you saw it with Leah. Shows like FIDDLER can make her proud to be an actor.


do you know these people? i am watching the awards on TV
i have one question. i feel Zana was scandallous in that she appeared
at the awards ceremony looking like a hooker herselF! and the movie is
supposred to tell people the sadness and dangers of prostitiution via
the kids, and yet she appears with her own breatsts hanging out of her
dress like a hooker. it ruined the award for me. i feel she should
have dressed more conservatrively. you don't win friends that way.
what do you think?>

jeez, she could have dressed with a better PR message. <...> that kind of outfit was
denigrating to the people she documented. what on earth was going on
in her head.

i want to email her and tell her face to face. do u know her email address?

dont get me wrong. i love what she and ross accomplished. i salute
the, and i know they are good people. but i am a PR nut from way back
and i feel she blew her chance for understand. how could she be so
DUMB? or insensitive.? there is a world beyond hollywood, watching.


and this:

from an Indian national:

> First of all I have not seen this film BROITHELK KIDS so I would not comment about
> the film-making/art aspect of it.
> However, I read about the film and honestly find it pretty pathetic.
> Looks like the film-makers are trying to follow the well established
> path: Pick up one wretched corner of the developing world, picture the
> misery of the people and use them for personal gains and throw in
> couple of western (white) characters and show them as saviors of the
> poor 'third-world' souls.
> Its true that some Westerners actually do things to help these people
> but vast majority just love to talk about these issues in parties
> particularly the guilt-ridden, patronizing liberal ones. The
> film-makers goes at length to show the bureaucracy in Kolkata schools
> but don't bother to even mention literally hundreds of Indian social
> organizations that play important role in protecting the existing
> prostitutes and rehabilitating others. Kolkata in particular is very
> active in terms of welfare of prostitutes. Prostitutes in Kolkata are
> organized in union and they enjoy legal protection and the spread of
> AIDS is minimal due to active health-care programs. Of course, the
> film-makers won't show it because the people doing real work are not
> westerners, they are Indians. If someone is making a documentary film
> it should be factual not a fairy tale story of white angels saving
> poor and dark people.
> This is exactly the same reason Hotel Rwanda won't get the Oscar
> because the heroes of the film are black Africans not westerners.
> In any case, the film-makers have a right to make any film they want.
> As long as they don't exploit poor children of the 'third-world' for
> making money its okay. Local media in Kolkata says that the
> film-makers raised false hope among the children and they are worse
> off after taking part in the film. If the film-makers are so desperate
> to picture misery maybe they should take their camera to the
> inner-city slums of New York and picture the troubled and often
> criminalized kids of those neighborhoods. Lets see how much people
> enjoy that! If you really want to watch a good film about poor kids
> living in many slums in urban India, watch "Salaam Bombay" by Mira
> Nair. Its an excellent film but unlike this one does not portray slum
> kids as weak, poor and dependent on western generosity. It depicts the
> reality about how actually the slum kids fight for their survival and
> fight against incredible odds.

Dan, I respectfully disagree with your assessment that Zana Briski ruined her PR opportunity or looked like a "hooker" at the Academy Awards. I think she was just dressing for the occasion along with everyone else in attendence there. Just because her film deals with such serious issues incuding the plight of prostitutes in India doesn't, in my opinion, mean that she needed to dress in a more chaste manner at such a supposedly "glamorous" Hollywood event. I don't think she hurt her credibility at all (she is a photographer/filmmaker, not one of Mother Teresa's nuns!), I just wish she had used more of her short acceptance speech to talk about the issues in her film. I also take issue with the comments from the "Indian national" who has not even SEEN the documentary! Say what you like about the filmmakers' motives (which I think were above reproach), but you can't deny this film is creating awareness about the plight of these children of sex workers among many thousands of people who otherwise would never have given these kids a second thought. It's also an inspiring tale of how the arts can change lives, even in the most dire of circumstances. It's true that the filmmakers are Westerners and I don't doubt that this helped the distribution of the documentary, but I don't think that is a valid argument for dismissing the film entirely, as "Indian national" seems to want to do without having seen it first. Briski does discuss the Indian organziations that were trying to help this community but she also covered the bureaucratic obstacles that were making this difficult. That said, I'm sure it's NOT a perfect documentary that gives a full picture of the situation. Maybe "Indian national" should try to make one?

Oh, and I don't know any of these people but I'm sure you can contact Zana Briski through her website. Thanks for your comments!

I just recently watched Fiddler on PBS and I agree with your blog entirely. It is a beautiful movie that only gets more beautiful with age. It made me want to be an actor (which I am) and it made me want to be a Jew. (I became Catholic instead - an "adopted" Jew). L'Chaim!

It is a great movie that becomes greater with every passing year. The performances are stellar. Too bad the cast was so touched by tragedy -- Crane died of cancer, Glaser's wife and child died of AIDS, and so did Frey.

I have always loved this film (Fiddler)I recently introduced it to my 9 and 5 year old daughters. They both loved it. They attend a Jewish Day School really connected to the characters and story. I also had a deeper appreciation and change of perception since the last viewing.

Hello...I'm watching Tivo'd "Fiddler" as I read your comments - I can't agree more with your observations. I loved the film as a girl, and I've seen it on TV a few times over the last 36 years and it's only now that I, too, appreciate the many layers and nuances of the characters. I look forward to reading the rest of your thoughts on other subjects, after "Fiddler" is over, of course!

I always thought that TZEITEL was the most beautiful of Tevye's daughters. And I still do. If I could meet and marry a girl as pretty as her, I'd be a happy man...

I agree with TJ. Tzeitel was/is a true Jewish beauty. Bravo to Rosalind Harris. Am watching Fiddler (the movie) on PBS as I type this. It ages like the finest port wine.

I love this film, always have and i've never thought it was shmaltzy...people who think that are likely really ill-educated. The music alone is astoundingly good. Personally, I always liked Chava. A very difficult relationship indeed.

I also think Tzeitel is the prettiest - she's beautiful, actually - and I'm a shiksa!

The Yiddish word for matchmaker is shadkhan, a match is a shiddukh. Yenta is a woman's name, likely derived from the French Jeanette. If we're going to educate our Christian friends, let's give them correct information.

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