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Mr. Personality? Or Mr. Personality disorder? Find out in Woody Allen's madcap mockumentary about an identity crisis of hilarious proportions! Thematically intricate, technically complex and filled with some of the most astonishing special effects ever, Zelig is "pure magic" (Newsweek)! Nominated* for two OscarsÂ(r), this "work of breathtaking virtuosity" (Playboy) isfurther proof that Allen "is the premier American filmmaker of his day" (The New York Times)! Leonard Zelig (Allen) is a social quick-change artist whose neurotic insecurity forces him to mimicmentally and physicallywhomever he's with. Treated by Dr. Eudora Fletcher (Farrow), Zelig is slowly cured, and in the process goes from side-show freak to national celebrity to Eudoras fiancÃ(c)! But when misdeeds from Zelig's multiple-personality past start to surface (larceny, bigamy and an unauthorized appendectomy), the human chameleon is on the run again, and Eudora must search the world over to find and save the only man who's every man she's ever wanted!
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Top Customer Reviews
With all of the hoopla surrounding Leonard Zelig there is really only one person who truly cares about him. Zelig was under observation by Dr. Fletcher when his half-sister Ruth and her shady husband Martin Geist show up to claim custody of Zelig. Ruth and Martin want control of Zelig for one reason only....to exploit him for financial gain. They turn Leonard into a carnival attraction, a novelty, a freak if you will. They not only charge admission to see him but offer all kinds of merchandise to boot. There are Zelig dolls, clocks, toys and books. He truly is a worldwide phenomenon. Zelig's popularity even spawns a dance craze known as "The Chameleon". With no around to love him Leonard's condition continues to deteriorate. Eventually, he vanishes from the scene and Dr. Fletcher is frantic to find him. Some time later she spots him in a newsreel standing right behind of all people Adolf Hitler looking like an SS officer. She rushes to Germany and manages to bring him home for treatment. Eventually the two of them fall in love and are married. Still, there are more peaks and valleys to come.
So just how did Woody Allen go about making such an innovative film? "I wrote the whole script first," explains the filmmaker, "then I looked at millions of feet of documentary and I changed my script with the new discoveries. And this went on for a couple of years". Allen also went out of his way to find old cameras, lenses and sound equipment from the 1920's to help give his film the authentic look and feel he was after. The film also features several original new tunes recorded in the 1920's style including "Chameleon Days", "You May Be Six People But I Love You", "Leonard The Lizard" and "Reptile Eyes". Very clever indeed!
I viewed "Zelig" for the first time in a good many years the other day and found it to be every bit as engaging, charming and witty as I remembered it to be. This is one of the most unique films you will ever see and ranks at or near the top of my favorite Woody Allen movies. If you have never seen "Zelig" I urge you to give it a look-see. You are in for a real treat. Very highly recommended!
While done mostly in black and white footage, the film looks like a real documentary. Yet, the film's narrative is hilarious and ironic. Every comment made through the film is meant for laughs although Allen uses its content to reflect about the conformism of popular culture. For this reason, he may have decided to use the 1920s as the historical backdrop for this film. The special effects are astonishing as we see Allen together with Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, or standing behind Babe Ruth while the latter is at bat during a Yankees game. There are some interviews with Susan Sontag, Saul Bellow, and other real contemporary people playing themselves, and who speak as if they were scholars who had studied the Zelig phenomenon.
Allen pursues the theme of the conformism of popular culture that he began in Annie Hall (1977). This time he does it through this Zelig character who desperately wants to blend in, he wants to feel accepted by others, and therefore conforms to his environs to the point of developing chameleonic tendencies. At the same time, the film doesn't forget to make fun of documentaries based on psychiatric studies, using the character of Eudora Fletcher as a parody of psychiatry. I liked this film, not only because of its unique way of narrating a story, but mostly because the narrative was really funny and because I can relate, and I think many people can, to the Zelig character in his quest to be accepted by others, to blend into the dominant group. Although every human being goes through this process, Allen really warns us against the pervasiveness of popular culture that often makes us behave in ways that only reflect are desire to be part of the group. Great film.