Home1-2526-5051-100101-50151-200201-250251-300
-
ANNIE HALL
1977 - Woody Allen
United States
79
Opening Shot

Annie Hall opens with a closeup of Woody Allen talking directly to the viewers as he stands in front of a plain backdrop. He starts off with sort of a standup bit on his typical life themes of relationships and philosophy before settling into the background of the character of the film. We are then taken back to his childhood...

The Film

I could probably debate what my favorite Woody Allen film is (perhaps Annie Hall, Husbands and Wives, or The Purple Rose of Cairo?), but to me none are more endlessly watchable and more definitive of Allen as a filmmaker then his acclaimed 1977 romantic comedy Annie Hall. The film contains some of the most memorable comic moments in American film history. It's a film that broke rules and stretched the boundaries of screen writing. There really are no rules, and for this the film is as fresh as ever! Annie Hall is also so refreshing because it displays a brilliance in cinematic ambition, creativity, and exploration. Taking the self-conscious cinematic spirit of Francois Truffaut, the film has moments of truly unique and ultimately hilarious comedy: putting characters back in time to stand in the room with their past, split screens, educator Marshall McLuhan suddenly appearing to defend himself against a know-it-all critic, animation, and even people in the street randomly commenting on the film. Annie Hall also contains profound dramatic elements, as it showed the pain of romantic longing unlike most similar genre films before it. The performances are all good, even Allen. He's generally not a great actor and can get annoying at times, but this is definitely his best performance. Much of the humor may be considered snobbish, but to me, it never fails. This is the essential Woody Allen film in detailing a humorous yet insightful look at relationships. Not only human relationships, but also relationships with a city. Here New York becomes a reflection of the character and of the filmmaker (this expression is hilariously heightened by the contrast of Alvy's visits in LA). Annie Hall is a genuinely clever, hilarious and memorable masterpiece that easily ranks among American cinema's greatest comedies.

The Filmmaker

Woody Allen is one of the most acclaimed and well known filmmakers of American cinema today. He has received a variety of accolades throughout his 40 years (and counting) career as director, writer, producer, and actor. Allen's filmmaking career has been remarkable and he stands as a key figure of American cinema, particularly within New York City, a city where he is the quintessential godfather (or archive) of filmmaking. Allen has earned 21 Academy Awards nominations (he's won three- writing & directing for Annie Hall, and writing for Hannah and Her Sisters). His 14 nominations for Best Screenplay Writing is the most all time (Billy Wilder is second with 12). Also, Allen's cast or crew have won a total of six Academy Awards. There is no doubt Allen is a brilliant and original writer. Ironically however, I think his filmmaking can best be summarized as an incredibly talented imitator! In fact his greatest gift as a filmmaker may be his ability to imitate other filmmakers in a way that is original or fresh on it's own. He has a fresh sense with dialogue that sets his material apart from modern American filmmakers of comedy. One aspect that is undeniable is that Woody Allen is an auteur, a filmmaker with a personal artistic statement and expression, who has complete control over his films (directing, writing, acting, editing), and often works with the same cast and crew. Allen's films can often range, but his general style, approach, and themes are often very much the same. Clearly love and death play a primary role in just about every film he's made. Above all though I believe his films center around ordinary, everyday living: the complexities, desires, fears, depressions, joys, flaws, and philosophies of living. Then at the center of living Allen focuses on relationships, sexuality, and religion. Just about every film he has made (be it drama or comedy) Allen presents the same style that often consists of heavy-dialogue, a New York setting, jazz music, and a camera placed as medium shots with characters in the center of the frame. Also at the center of many of Allen's films is Allen himself as an actor. Like the great silent comedians (Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Charlie Chaplin) Allen has a signature persona that he carries with every character he plays. Allen's career seemed to be slipping since the start of the 21st Century, but his 2005 release Match Point (which marked his first film shot entirely in Britain) is perhaps the best non-comedy film he has made, and it has seemingly revived his career towards a different direction. While I do believe he's an imitator of other masters, I can't deny that Allen still has originality and vision. All filmmakers or even artists are inspired and borrow from previous artists. Above all, Allen enjoys films and making films as it shows in his work. He stands as a truly important figure in American film history and his accomplished work simply speaks for itself as he is responsible for an endless number memorable films.

Images
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Resources
trailer (youtube)      
-