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Zelig [DVD]

4.2 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Patrick Horgan, John Buckwalter, Marvin Chatinover
  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Charles H. Joffe, Jack Rollins, Michael Peyser, Robert Greenhut
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, German
  • Subtitles: French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English, German
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: 19 Aug. 2002
  • Run Time: 72 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006BT6B
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,870 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Woody Allen comedy about a man with a strange ability to fit in almost anywhere. In America, during the years of the Depression, Leonard Zelig (Woody Allen) uses his chameleon-like powers to become a minor celebrity. He is seen watching Babe Ruth making a home run, cheering Adolph Hitler and rubbing shoulders with Roosevelt. Zelig becomes so celebrated that a psychiatrist (Mia Farrow) takes him on as a patient, and soon falls in love with him.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Before there was Forrest Gump shaking hands with John F. Kennedy there was Leonard Zelig interrupting a speech by Adolf Hitler. This 1983 faux-documentary from Woody Allen tells the tale of a strange little man who wanted so badly to fit in that he was able to change like a chameleon to blend in with his surroundings, whether that meant being a musician in a black band, a psychiatrist in a mental institution, or a member of the Nazi party. Mia Farrow co-stars as Dr. Eudora Fletcher, who not only treats Zelig with her radical psychiatric theories but eventually falls in love with the lovable loser, saving him from those who want to put him on display so people can watch Leonard turn Chinese, French or obese.
Cinematographer Gordon Willis deserves a lot of the credit for "Zelig," creatively aging his film to blend with the archive footage that has Leonard rubbing elbows with Fanny Brice, Charles Chaplin and Rudolf Hess. This "documentary" includes "contemporary" interviews with Dr. Fletcher (Ellen Garrison) and other figures in the life and times of Zelig as well as comments from critics such as Susan Sontag and Saul Bellow ("He touched people in a way that they perhaps did not want to be touched..."). I also must commend the unique narrative style provided by Patrick Horgan, who delivers the sly narration with the driest sense of humor ever recorded.
My favorite section of this film is when Zelig becomes the national craze of the moment, to be celebrated and exploited by dolls, games and puzzles, songs like "Leonard the Lizard," and even a Hollywood movie. "Zelig" is a much more subtle documentary parody than either "Take the Money and Run" or "Spinal Tap." Truth, fiction and absurdity are blended seamlessly in this film, which is that most rare creature, a "charming" Woody Allen movie that is a much more enjoyable experience than reading "Moby Dick."
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Format: DVD
Woody Allen has a chameleonic reputation as a film-maker, so how apt is this 1983 film which pre-empted Forrest Gump in telling the tale of an ordinary Joe who becomes part of extraordinary events almost without realising it, due in no little part to his chameleonic nature. Allen's Zelig though is not just able to blend in, he has a rare genetic condition that means he becomes just like the person he is close to, for example he is in a plane with a female pilot and suddenly develops the skill to fly upside-down across the Atlantic with no previous flying experience! My favourite scene though is where Zelig becomes part of Hitler's inner circle, and is seen at Nuremberg wildly waving to the doctor who has become his closest confidante, as Hitler rants and raves in the foreground.
A film before its time, the cinematography is amazing, and despite appearing to be quite a slight project, running at around 70 minutes altogether, this film has hidden depths, and certainly needs repeated viewings in order to get the full effect.
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By Thespionic TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 19 April 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
At just an hour and twenty minutes this is a very short film indeed. Woody has such a brilliant and wacky mind that he’s always capable of coming up with something quite different, though the inevitable ‘relationship’ again creeps in here with one of his regulars. You all know the storyline and how it’s put together and presented, so I’ll skip that.
I found this film 'interesting' rather than engrossing or overly humorous. It comes across as very dated now, yes, I know we’re taken back to the jazz age and that B & W grainy film, but for me it was all rather tame and I can’t recall one laugh out loud moment - for me. I do appreciate that 30 years ago this may have been seen as cutting edge, quite a daring and clever piece. Sorry, but it’s a decent enough three stars, as it did little for me overall, other than add another ‘WA’ flick to those that I’ve watched - and have to say, thoroughly enjoyed in the main.
I know a lot of 'Woodyites' really rated this film (it scored fairly well on RT, IMDb and grossed well), but my preference is for the likes of ‘ Broadway Danny Rose, which followed this film, ’ and the wonderful 'Midnight in Paris,' to mention but a few.

It’s just a personal choice of course, and few of us would have the same top ten ‘Woody’ films now would we?
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Format: DVD
Amazing technically, with a lot to say about society, conformity, and how we see ourselves.

This brilliantly made mock documentary about a 'human chameleon' in the 1920s and 30s who unconsciously changes his appearance in a desperate attempt to fit in and be liked, is hilarious and heartbreaking, often at the same time.

Some of the visual effects are still astounding by modern standards. And Allen gives a performance that is surprisingly subtle.

There are a few slow moments, and a few jokes feel self-conscious, but not enough to hurt the film in any way. This is tied with 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' and 'Hannah and her Sisters' for my 2nd favorite Allen film behind 'Annie Hall'.

One of the greatest films by one the great filmmakers of the 2nd half of the 20th century. Very worth seeking out.
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By Keith M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Feb. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Woody Allen's 1983 film Zelig is a clever and beautifully constructed 'documentary' on fictional character, 'chameleon man' Leonard Zelig (played by Allen), and shot in black and white by regular Allen cinematographer Gordon Willis. In Zelig, Allen (and his technicians) skilfully intercut images of the fictional Zelig, with famous international stars from sport, literature and politics. Zelig is first mysteriously spotted in a baseball game, as he waits surreptitiously to come into bat behind Babe Ruth. The discovery of this 'mystery man' leads to Zelig being pursued by the authorities, who next locate him in the local Chinese community, where he has miraculously morphed in appearance to closely resemble a Chinaman - he is thereafter dubbed 'chameleon man'.

Allen has constructed the film in true documentary style (reminiscent of the earlier Take The Money And Run) with flashback footage of Zelig associating with high-profile public figures, being interspersed with current day interviews with close associates, family and friends (including real-life figures photographer Susan Sontag, author Saul Bellow and social commentator Irving Howe). Eminent doctor, Endora Fletcher (Mia Farrow) becomes fascinated with Zelig and undertakes a series of medical tests on him in an attempt to uncover the cause of his condition. She concludes that Zelig's metamorphic tendency is actually a 'cry for help' - he is seeking acceptance by society.

In Zelig, therefore, Allen is dealing principally with questions about identity and, in the character Zelig, has taken social conformity to its ultimate extreme, by adopting the same physical identity as one's surroundings.
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