I have yet to meet a young Uyghur girl who doesn’t love the musical Fiddler on the Roof ( even those with a relatively low English level ,still seem to be able to follow and love the story). I think a lot of that has to do with how similar the movie is to real life here.
IMBD’s plot summary says: In the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Jews and Orthodox Christians live in the little village of Anatevka in the pre-revolutionary Russia of the Czars. Among the traditions of the Jewish community, the matchmaker arranges the match and the father approves it. The milkman Reb Tevye is a poor man that has been married for twenty-five years with Golde and they have five daughters. When the local matchmaker Yente arranges the match between his older daughter Tzeitel and the old widow butcher Lazar Wolf, Tevye agrees with the wedding. However Tzeitel is in love with the poor tailor Motel Kazoil and they ask permission to Tevye to get married that accepts to please his daughter. Then his second daughter Hodel (Michele Marsh) and the revolutionary student Perchik decide to marry each other and Tevye is forced to accept. When Perchik is arrested by the Czar troops and sent to Siberia, Hodel decides to leave her family and homeland and travel to Siberia to be with her beloved Perchik. When his third daughter Chaveleh decides to get married with the Christian Fyedka, Tevye does not accept and considers that Chava has died. Meanwhile the Czar troops evict the Jewish community from Anatevka.
So how is that like life here?
1) Tradition. The first song sums it up. Uyghur culture is full of traditions and the people love them. If you have been reading this blog over a long period of time than you know that I spent a lot of time trying to learn and capture these traditions.
2)The Papa’s have the role as the master of their own homes.
3) The mama’s wear their head scarves and take care of the family
4) A matchmaker is responsible for hooking up young couples. “Match maker, match maker make me a match. Find me a find, catch me a catch.”
5) The lead character is fond of saying “As the good book says…” and then he repeatedly misquotes the torah (mainly because he has never read it for himself). I have many Uyghur friends who believe the Quran with their whole heart, yet they have never read it for themselves and often end up relaying to me sections of the hadith and claiming “as the Quran teaches...”
6) Most of the police and government workers in the movie are Russian and they look down on the Jewish minority. Here most of officials are part of the majority people and often leave Uyghur feeling looked down upon.
7) The desire to have a son, instead of being ‘blessed’ with five daughters
8) Kosher verse ha’lal: sure they are different, but both have the no pork thing going for them
9)The younger generation is constantly challenging and changing the traditions that their ancestors have held tightly for so many years.
10) Music and dancing – for as much and Uyghur culture loves music and dancing and intertwines it into daily life, I am really surprised that there is not such genera of local movies as a Uyghur musical.