"In prerevolutionary Russia, a Jewish peasant contends with marrying off three of his daughters while growing antisemitic sentiment threatens his village."
...but with singing, dancing, joy, sorrow and unshakable faith in the face of change, both subtle and global. Tevye is a good and faithful man, who wants nothing more than to see his family happy and to have time to "discuss the holy books with the learned." He struggles with changing times - daughters who choose their own husbands, make friends with non-Jews and revolutionaries - and reconciling them to his faith. Sometimes he can, sometimes he can't.
Topol owns his role as Tevye, as he did, I hear, on Broadway. His nagging wife and headstrong daughters are well-played as well, but fade into the background behind Topol's stage presence.
My family has been watching and enjoying this movie for years. It led to discussions about hatred and intolerance for my children, and now for my grandchildren. And much yidel-didel-ing.
I watched it again yesterday as one of the AFI's 100 Years 100 Cheers movies for my 3rd. 101 Things in 1001 Days. It's always a pleasure to revisit this old friend.