A prequel or a sequel to a beloved series has to be done right. While exploring new territory with new characters and new narratives, it must also weave in the narrative and characters that fans know and adore.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a prequel to the Harry Potter series. Set in 1926 New York, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is carrying what appears to be an ordinary suitcase. But it is far from ordinary. When the creatures inside the suitcase escape and nearly destroy New York City, Newt must work with sisters Tina and Queenie Goldstein (Katherine Waterstone and Alison Sudol) and no-mag (i.e. muggle) Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) to get them back.
Before I go any farther I must say that I have not yet read the book, so this review is based solely on the movie. The thing that I enjoy and appreciate, both as an audience member and a writer is that J.K. Rowling understands how to write for movie audiences. The reason her books are so well-beloved and the movies are equally beloved is that the characters and the narrative come first, before any special effects. Of course, they are eye-popping, but she knows how to write a good story first and foremost. That is the key to this movie’s success.
I recommend it.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is presently in theaters.
Based on the stories by Sholem Aleichem, Fiddler On The Roof is the tale of Tevye (played in the current production by Danny Burstein), his family, his world and how both are changing.
Here are my reasons to see Fiddler On The Roof, if you have not seen it already.
You don’t have to be Jewish to get the story. Tevye is a husband and father just trying to get by and do right by his family. We can all relate to that.
It is the story of clinging to traditions in the face of adversity and change. In our increasing secular and technology driven world, it becomes harder to keep to the traditions of our family and our culture.
There is a strong element of feminism running through Fiddler. Tevye has no sons and five daughters. In that community and that time, young people did not marry for love. They married because the town matchmaker chose their spouse and the father agreed to the match. His three eldest daughters, Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava choose their own husbands. If feminism is defined as a woman choosing to live life on her terms and if her only choice is marriage, then choosing of one’s spouse based on affection and mutual interests (as opposed to social status or income) is a feminist act.
This is the story of refugees. At the end of the musical, the Jewish citizens of Anatevka are forced out of their homes and out of the shtetl they have called home for generations. The addition of the red parka worn by Burstein at the beginning and the end of the piece highlight how relevant this story still is. Nearly every day, we open the newspaper or turn on the evening news and hear about stories of refugees leaving heir homes due to persecution or war.
Fiddler On The Roof is the penultimate act for a world that ceased to exist 70 years ago. A generation after Fiddler ends, communities like Anatevka will be decimated and her Jews slaughtered by the Nazis.
Chava’s marriage to Fyedka. In some parts of the world, a mixed marriage is still considered controversial.
For audience members who, like myself who are Jewish and can trace their ancestry to Eastern Europe, it is a snapshot of the world our ancestors knew.
Sunrise, Sunset. There is no more universal song from Fiddler than Sunrise, Sunset. When we are parents, as much as we want to do for our children, we have to recognize that they must grow up and live life on their own terms.
This production is wonderful. I highly recommend it and I also recommend that anyone interested in seeing Fiddler On The Roof should get tickets immediately as the show closes on Dec 31.
Fiddler On The Roof is at The Broadway Theater, 1681 Broadway, NY NY 10019.