Analizing Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye the Dairyman” and its two screen adaptations: the 1939 Maurice Schwartz film “Tevye” and the final two episodes of the 1972 Norman Jewison musical film “The Fiddler on the Roof”
1. The written assignment should be in the form of a short essay (not more than 5 pages).
2. Please, note that it is far better to write a well formulated, coherently presented, and succinct shorter paper, than fill out numerous pages with loosely connected facts or statements. You must try your best at striking a balance between brief summary, well-argued analysis, and appropriate use of concrete examples.
3. Points will be taken off for insufficient editing of the submitted paper. These include: (A) misspellings, (B) “loose” sentence structure, (C) incorrect use of proper and geographical names, (D) unjustified repetition of information or statements within the same paper, (E) unauthorized use of „secondary‟ sources, that is any sources, which are not explicitly included in the list of required and recommended readings.
4. The essay must be submitted as an MS Word or PDF Attachment
Offer a comparative analysis (but not a book-report retelling the contents) of Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye the Dairyman” (written in 1895-1915) and its two screen adaptations: (a) Maurice Schwartz’s 1939 film “Tevye” and (b) the relevant final two episodes of Norman Jewison’s 1972 film adaptation of the 1960s musical “Fiddler on the Roof”.
For extra consideration, you may offer a few extra paragraphs with a concise general summing-up discussion (see No. 6 below).
When comparing the original book by Sholem Aleichem with the two films, please remember that the Yiddish film is not based on the book part of which we read, but on the author’s, that is Sholem Aleichem’s own, adaptation of some of the Tevye stories into a play. Also, the film “Fiddler on the Roof” is not a direct adaptation of Sholem Aleichem’s work, but a film adaptation of a musical with the same name, “Fiddler on the Roof”, which is indeed a very loose and somewhat deceptively americanizing adaptation of the Tevye stories.
Some possible issues to focus on may include the following:
1. The characterization of Tevye in the book and the different interpretations of this character on screen. What can be done on screen as opposed to what was done in the original text of Tevye’s monologues? How does the type of film – a high-drama film, or a musical play reworking which is, in turn, itself adapted into a film – affect the nature and perhaps even the content of the original literary work?
2. The way in which death is being portrayed, referred to, dealt with in the book and on screen (note, if it is altogether avoided in one of the film adaptations and if so, then what does it tell us about that particular adaptation).
3. Coping with “losing a child” to poverty, to Revolution, to death, to Capitalism in the book and to conversion (in “internal” traditional terms: to “Apostasy”) in both the book and in the two screen adaptations.
4. The portrayal of the non-Jewish characters and Tevye’s interactions with them.
5. The traditional way of life, the changing world and the overwhelming impact of “modernity”
6. Finally, you may wish to add a few paragraphs briefly comparing and summing-up all three larger literary works that were read for this course and their cinematic adaptations (or interpretations). A good idea might be to focus your general summing-up discussion on the so-called “crisis of modernity” (see 5 above).
If you write only about “Tevye the Dairyman” and its film adaptation(s) then the paper shouldn’t be no longer than 3,5, maximum 4 pages. However, if you wish to add the comparative summing-up paragraphs, the paper may be longer, however, but not exceeding 5, at most 5,5 pages.
Doesn’t need outside resources.
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