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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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."
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.
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?
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pleased with film unusual and funny. Also pleased that dvd arrived promptly and nicely packaged. Woody Allen is a genuis director and this film one of his bestPublished 3 months ago by Denise Bertuchi
Woody Allen's humour comes across well here, the footage of Zelig in various situations is funny, & the narrator's descriptions are great. Good comedy by Allen. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Shutter
the film not as good as i remember it,very clever considering when it was made but preferred Broadway Danny RosePublished 17 months ago by nick hill