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Shadows and Fog

3.9 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Lovely, poignant" (The Wall Street Journal) and laugh-out-loud funny, Shadows and Fog confirms Woody Allen's genius with its brilliant portrait of the hopelessbut hilarioustragicomedy of human existence. Boasting a dazzling "galaxy of stars" (Leonard Maltin), including Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, John Malkovich, Madonna, Donald Pleasence, Lily Tomlin, Jodie Foster, Kathy Bates, John Cusack and Julie Kavner, Shadows and Fog delights with "all the fantasy and seriousness,mysterious construction and burlesque complications of a Shakespeare comedy" (Le Monde). Recruited by an inept mob of vigilantes, Kleinman (Allen), a cowardly clerk, is forced to search for a notorious murdereronly to stumble upon a feisty sword-swallower, Irmy (Farrow), runningaway from the circus and her 'clownish' boyfriend (Malkovich). Determined to help Irmy, and eager to escape the vigilantes, Kleinman abandons his search for the killer or so he thinks. Rushing headlong into the odious night, Kleinman and Irmy are launched into a mysterious world of shadows and fog from which they may never emerge.

Amazon.com

No other Woody Allen film has ever been hustled into oblivion faster than this black-and-white mélange of Mittel-European nightmare, absurdist farce, and homage to German expressionism--sort of Woody Allen meets Franz Kafka in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, set to Kurt Weill's score for The Threepenny Opera. Yet the daft experiment is not without charm and, as the title suggests, oodles of atmosphere.

In a murky, seriously deranged cityscape only a studio art department could create, a giant bald strangler (Michael Kirby) is going around killing people with piano wire. The authorities are powerless (though he stomps about freely, occasionally declaiming speeches), so vigilante posses start roving the streets. For some reason, they dragoon a noisy nebbish named Kleinman (Allen) to assist them. So Kleinman goes into the fog, kvetching, and meets Irmy (Mia Farrow), a circus sword swallower (no double-entendres, please) whose clown of a husband (John Malkovich) is two-timing her with the strongman's wife (Madonna). Add an "et cetera" here, because the big, mostly wasted cast also includes Kenneth Mars as the strongman, Donald Pleasence as a philosophical coroner, John Cusack as a student who mistakes Irmy for a prostitute, and Kathy Bates, Jodie Foster, and Lily Tomlin as the real prostitutes in whose company she happens to be at the time. None of this adds up, and the whole thing moves and feels less like a film than one of Allen's oddball New Yorker sketches. Still, as the fever dream of an art-house addict, it has its moments. --Richard T. Jameson


Special Features

  • Collectible Booklet

Product Details

  • Actors: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Michael Kirby, David Ogden Stiers, James Rebhorn
  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Charles H. Joffe, Helen Robin, Jack Rollins, Joseph Hartwick, Robert Greenhut
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2001
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005AUJO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,890 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shadows and Fog" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This film IS enjoyable: great actors, funny lines, and perfect atmosphere. Many of those who don't enjoy it say it is confusing, but the film can be easily understood as an allegory for the search for meaning (existentialism). A strangler-at-random serves as the representative of death, while the hapless characters try to figure out their lives and stay out of the strangler's way at the same time. You get to see all the "solutions" to the problem of life and death played out: sex, artistry, religion, science, childbearing, mob thinking, they're all there. As a perfect foil to all of these perspectives Allen plays a snivelling "everyman" with comic brilliance.
If you really want to enjoy this movie, read the pulitzer prize- winning book, The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker (the same book Diane Keaton threw at Woody in Annie Hall!). If The Denial of Death is cake, Shadows and Fog is the frosting.
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Woody Allen's "Shadows and Fog" has been called a "misfire" and is, in a sense, a forgotten film by Allen. It's hardly mentioned in conversations about his work. I consider myself a pretty big fan of Woody Allen, but the only reason I rented the movie was because John Malkovich was in it. Turns out, this is one of my favorite Woody Allen movies (I've seen 13). It's funny, well acted, has a huge array of stars, has perfect black & white cinematography, and is a pretty damn good movie. Allen plays Max Kleinman, a man who has fallen into a deep sleep only to be rudely awakened by his neighbors. They want his help in finding a serial strangler and Max, apparently, has a part in helping find him. Problem is, Max doesn't know what his part in it is. As Max walks around the gloomy, foggy area fearing the strangler will strike he encounters a bunch of quirky characters. One is Irmy (Mia Farrow), a circus sword-swallower who has ran away after catching her lover, Clown (Malkovich) cheating on her (with Madonna, no less). Before Max and Irmy actually run into each other, Irmy runs into a brothel that is occupied by such familiar faces as Jodie Foster, Lily Tomlin, and Kathy Bates. After she makes $700 for a one-night stand with John Cusack, she finally runs into Max. The movie's got a huge cast, with some actors' only turning up for a few moments. Some of the players include William H. Macy, Donald Pleasence, John C. Reilly, and many others. The movie has a gloomy, shadowy, and foggy (fitting, I guess) atmosphere which might be paying homage to early film-noir movies. The movie, like many Allen films, is fueled almost entire by dialogue and all of it's good and almost all of it's interesting. There are a few quotable lines in here.Read more ›
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`A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy' and `Shadows and Fog' are two of Woody Allen's `second tier movies, less highly regarded than `Annie Hall', `Manhattan', and `Hannah and Her Sisters', but nonetheless a great pleasure to watch over and over again for anyone who has a taste for Allen's movies. The fact that Allen's movies, even these parodies of classic works and genres are primarily about characters and their personalities, passions, and foibles rather than about story, so you don't loose the primary reason for watching the movie as you do when you watch `The Maltese Falcon' or `Die Hard' or even `The Terminator' for the first time. I have seen both of these movies several times and I constantly find new pleasures in the dialogue.

Aside from their both being genre parodies, both movies share several other aspects, not the least of which is Allen's usual well oiled crew plus great `visiting' Director of Photography. I am constantly amazed at the consistently high level of quality in the filming of Allen's movies, since he has a great reputation for bringing his works in within schedule and under budget. Part of his economy is probably due to the fact that while Allen as director is not in the same league as Martin Scorsese or even Clint Eastwood, lots of actors drop what they are doing to be able to appear in the next Woody Allen film. And, they probably appear for a lot less money than they would for Marty or Clint. I also sense in some scenes that Allen lets little flubs go to the final print which Scorsese, for example, would reshoot until it was perfect.
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whatever else, one really finds that finest and most enduring films of the entire Woody Allen opus comes from his open collaboration with Mia Farrow.

Sure, Alice is a tad weaker, but we do have Zelig and of course his greatest and deepest film of all time, Broadway Danny Rose.

All that came before Mia is practice at refining his craft.

All that comes after Mia cries that he has lost his mind and his heart is not really in it.

But this forgotten gem is also of his apex.

Enter the mystery of this movie like a great novel and discover its hidden treasures throughout

some reviewers allege allusions to films which ring falsely to me; this product is so richly multi-faceted a gem that each will see what each will see, like the mirror illusion of the circus grand finale

here we may see allusions to everything from Seventh Seal in the central traveling circus couple, with its virgin birth

In fact the homicidal maniac may be seen as the Seventh Seal's randomized Death

to the EYE in Great Gatsby.

Much reflects Chaplin, in particular The Circus and Limelight, with its presentation of the horror of an audience not laughing, somewhat briskly brushed off by Malkovitch, but evocative nonetheless.

there is so much more to see; the presence of Donald Pleasance researching the anatomical source of this evil reminds the viewer sharply of that horror series in which he played a homicidal maniac youth's psychiatrist (Halloween or Jason, what was it again?)

And of course as always, the gestures, motion, expressions of Woody Allen himself bring to mind most of all his hero Bob Hope's Road movies.
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