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Love and Death

4.6 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews


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Editorial Reviews

Woody Allen reinvents himself again with the epic historical satire that is a "wonderfully funny and eclectic distillation of the Russian literary soul" (New York Magazine). One of his most visual, philosophical and elaborately conceived films, Love and Death "demonstrates again that [Allen] is an authentic comedy genius" (Cosmopolitan). Cowardly scholar Boris Grushenko (Allen) has the hots for the beautiful Sonja (Diane Keaton), but cold feet for the Napoleonic Wars. Devastated by news of Sonja's plans to wed a foul-smelling herring merchant, Boris enlists in the armyonly to return home a penniless hero! Finally agreeing to marry him, Sonja settles down with poor Boris, to a rich life of philosophy, celibacy and meals of snow. But when the French troops invade Russia and Sonja hatches a zany scheme to assassinate Napoleon, Boris learnsin a hilariousbut fatal coup attemptthat God is an underachiever, there are no girls in the afterlife and thatthe angel of death can't be trusted!

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Féodor Atkine, Olga Georges-Picot
  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: July 5, 2000
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792846095
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,679 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Love and Death" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
For me, "Love and Death" bridges together the slapstick satire of Woody's early movies with the grand verbal wit of the later movies. It never falls into the trap of relying too much on the former, and its reliance on the latter produces some of the silliest Woody dialogue I've ever heard. But it's the perfect mixture between the two that makes this my pick for funniest Woody Allen flick. So far.
I've always felt that the context (Russia in the 19th century and the Napoleonic Wars) and the content (pre-existentialist philosophy) were fine targets to satire. The opening scenes, where Woody as narrator introduces his screwball family, are truly looney-tuney. And the scenes where Woody (Boris) and Diane Keaton (Sonja) talk philosophy, serve more to make fun of the ridiculous gibberish they are engaged in than to further the philosophical discourse. The truer philosophical discussions come in the form of setup-punchline jokes delivered later on ("If it turns out that there IS a God, I don't think that he's evil; I think that the worst you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever"). This is all good stuff.
Woody's performance here reminded me a lot of really good Groucho Marx. His wiseguy retorts to oblivious inquisitors are done in the same winking/nod to the camera manner that Groucho mined for gold. And Woody, with his messy red hair and horn-rimmed glasses, looks every bit the sarcastic clown that Groucho did. There's one particular scene ("She's a great kidder... No, you're a great kidder... No, you're Don Francisco's sister") which mimics the Marx Brothers doubletalk style perfectly. In the film's second half, Woody takes a step back, to allow Diane Keaton some grand time in the Groucho persona. And she runs with it.
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By Vinzo on September 19, 2002
Format: DVD
Over the years, this is one of the Allen films that I most often revisit. It truly gets better the more times it is seen. The dialog is brilliant. The interplay between Allen and Keaton is perfect. I also think it is Diane Keaton's best role as she has the opportunity to exercise her wonderful comic touch and timing. Each scene contains lines that have become classics: Allen; "I heard voices". Keaton: "I was praying". Allen: I heard two voices". Keaton: "I do both parts". The dialog is layered and the Russian literature references are very funny. This is a film treasure and certainly ranks with the great comedies of all time.
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Format: DVD
Question: Take Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Napoleon Bonaparte and a Bergmanesque Grim Reaper - drop them into a 19th century Russian setting fit for an adventure/romance epic and what do you get?

Answer: One of the funniest films you'll ever see.

This is Woody Allen at the peak of his creativity. The fun never stops and it has tons of quotable lines that only get funnier with each repeat viewing. In my estimation this film, along with Annie Hall, are Woody's best work! A MUST OWN for anyone who loves to laugh!
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Format: DVD
Is this movie funny? Absolutely! As other reviewers have noted, the movie is filled with some of Allen's wittiest one-liners. But of all the Woodman's films, this one may also be one of the smartest. Yes, it parodies the pre-existentialist novels of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy (though Tolstoy much more so), but it does it in a way that's intellectually stimulating and VERY faithful to the tradition these writers helped to launch. Allen isn't just parodying this tradition--he's displaying a deep commitment to this tradition as well.

In fact, one could make the case that the very absurdity of much of the movie (Russian peasants routinely discussing meta-ethical philosophy; Boris surviving several close-range gunshots nearly unphased; Boris and Sonja surviving on a diet of snow) is a commitment to the philosophical and literary movement known as existentialism.

Examine the movie closely, and you will find running throughout the themes emphasized by much of the best existentialist writings. Most significantly, Woody addresses the question of what meaning one can give to life in a Godless world and what kind of ethical stance is possible between pure subjectivity and the now defunct objectivity. The latter issue sets the stage for later Allen classics like *Crimes and Misdemeanors*, and is treated very well in the picture as Boris continually tries to navigate between a God-based moral system which he, as an atheist, rejects, and a purely subjective approach to values. Perhaps this movie does not so much parody these writers as it does involve them in debate. Much of Boris' ruminations suggest, contrary to Dostoyevsky, that even if God is dead, everything is NOT permitted.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Woody Allen outdid himself by taking history and humor where it had never been before. When I first saw this film in the mid-70's, I was not quite up to speed on my historical references and dry saracastic wit. Five years later I saw it a a repetory film theatre, and laughed so hard that I dropped my over-priced concessions all over my lap. I have laughed at many a Allen film, but "Love And Death" works on so many levels that it just kicks your "laugh trigger" into overdrive!!!
I wish I had this mans smarts...I am amazed at Allens twisted weaving of story-telling and one-liners..My favorite is when he is in training and the seargent says "From now on you'll clean the latrines and the mess hall" Allens response: "Sir, how can I tell the difference?".....Hilarious...
I've seen this film dozens of times, and it simply doesn't get old..Allen has proven once again that if a joke is TRULY funny it can be repeated over and over again and have the same effect on people. The reclusive Woody Allen is the one celebrity I would like to meet..... to thank him for making this extraordinary film....it;s like a best friend I like to watch when I'm in the dumps..
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