8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Another Truly Innovative Film from Woody Allen,
This review is from: Zelig (DVD)
I had seen bits and pieces of Woody Allen's "Zelig" before but I had never seen the whole movie until last night. To be honest, my initial reaction was to wonder if I would be able to maintain interest throughout the whole movie. As it turned out, that was no problem.
"Zelig" tells the story of an individual who developed an unexplainable ability to appear like the people of his surroundings. It is presented in a documentary format and that format is amazingly well done. I'm of the opinion that there was plenty of actual newsreel footage from the 1920's and '30's and there was also plenty of new film made to appear that it was from that era. I was never that certain as to which was which because the cinematography was that well done. The retrospective interviews with present day theorists and aged contemporaries butressed the documentary nature of the film (as did the continuous narration).
As the title character (played by Woody Allen) assumes more and more identities, we come to understand that his efforts to be like others leaves him with no identity of his own. I understood Allen's message to be an expression of his frustration with the negative public reaction to his post-"Annie Hall" movies. He wasn't making the kinds of pictures everyone else was and his uniqueness was being dismissed. I saw him making a statement that banality lacks meaning by satirizing someone who went out of his way to avoid being himself. Maybe Allen had a higher purpose in making "Zelig" but I was comfortable with the message I got out of it.
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Initial post: Jan 18, 2014 8:02:41 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 18, 2014 8:05:05 AM PST
An historical footnote to one of the intellectual luminaries of the time who appeared in Zelig: Bruno Bettelheim was all the rage in the late 1960's, with the publication of his book, The Hidden Fortress, which explained that autism was caused by cold, unloving mothers. Bettelheim's "Refrigerator Mother Syndrome", made him a celebrity on television talk shows, Freud was all the rage at the time, and he sounded really cool with that accent of his. The blaming of mothers for autism actually continued right into the early eighties, when his theory was at last discredited, right around the time he did this cameo in Zelig. He committed suicide in the early 90's.
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