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Zelig [Blu-ray]

4.3 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow
  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Arrow Academy
  • DVD Release Date: 12 Dec. 2016
  • Run Time: 72 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B01LW6NJUB
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,579 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

Mockumentaries are ten a penny these days, but in 1983 Zelig offered something startlingly new, as heavyweight talking heads such as Saul Bellow and Susan Sontag discuss an entirely fictional character who is nonetheless strangely convincing.

Leonard Zelig (Woody Allen) is a man so introverted and insecure that he has developed the ability to blend perfectly into the background of any given situation, regardless of the personality or even ethnicity of the people around him. But when he inadvertently becomes famous as the human chameleon after the media takes too keen an interest in his therapy sessions with Dr Eudora Fletcher (Mia Farrow), Zelig is faced with an unprecedented challenge: how do you fade into the background when the spotlight is firmly upon you?

Zelig isn t just hilarious but also an incredible technical accomplishment. Without any recourse to CGI techniques that had yet to be invented, Oscar-nominated cinematographer Gordon Willis inserts Zelig into actual 1920s and 30s footage so seamlessly that you re convinced that he s really interacting with the likes of Babe Ruth and Adolf Hitler.

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 Verified Purchase
This is very funny in parts, but basically one idea stretched a little thin. Best bits are the metamorphosis sequences.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Great film! Just trying to complete my Woody Allen blu ray collection! I'm replacing films I've already bought on vhs or laserdisc. Very disappointed in the poor quality of the packaging...just a disc, no insert and a poor quality case which arrived broken. Still, that makes 32 of his films I've got in blu ray..."Play it again, Sam" is the one I really want!
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Format: DVD
Zelig (1983) comes from the period when Woody Allen was at the very peak of his creativity. He had won the best picture Oscar with Annie Hall (1977), had made his most critically acclaimed masterpiece Manhatten (1979) and had made two extraordinary films which were panned at the time, but which have since come in to their own - Interiors (1978) and Stardust Memories (1980). He had started on Zelig before both A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982) and Broadway Danny Rose (1984), but the complicated special effects meant it was finished after those two. It has become customary to see Woody's films in total as rather narrow in their focus concerning as they do an America which is solely rich, privileged, upper middle class, white, well-cushioned and altogether too pleased with itself. Marriage, relationships, the neurotic artist at odds with the world - these subjects came to mark out clichéd Woody territory which would eventually grate on audiences with their repetition, but anyone who has seen all the films I have listed above will be astounded at the range and originality that he once commanded. The Oscar for Annie Hall gave Woody the freedom to break out of his stand-up comic pigeon hole, and like a kid in a toy shop he tried out all kinds of things as if for the first time.

Zelig is perhaps Woody's most experimental film of all. It is a mock documentary based on the life of Leonard Zelig (Woody himself), a fictional nobody whose complete absence of any kind of personality leads him to assume the identity of whoever he happens to be with at any given time. A chameleon, he changes size, shape and color in a sub-conscious desire to assimilate into society.
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A film like Zelig doesn't fall into any obvious category, so it's important to remember that Woody Allen is a movie category unto himself. A true American auteur, he's exercised more creative freedom sine the '60s than most film directors and this movie comes from arguably Woody's most fertile period.

I see Zelig as building upon the flawed example of Allen's first directorial feature, Take The Money & Run. TTM&R was a kind of slapstick bio-pic about a career criminal, told through docu-style reportage with narration by an authority figure, interviews and hilarious dramatizations from the life of Allen's hopeless bank robber. It shows its age now, not least in the underwritten part for the girl playing Virgil's wife. With Zelig, again, there is a kind of emotional distance, but the overall concept is far more ambitious and thoughtful. The jokes are now used more sparingly, but are always wickedly funny when they arrive.

For anyone who mistakenly believes Allen works to a formula, where neurotic people gab on about their selfish problems against a New York backdrop - you need to see this and start rethinking your position. Zelig's metamorphoses are ingeniously handled - I really like it when he pops up on the balcony with the Pope and they start assaulting him. Mia Farrow is luminous as Zelig's psychologist. This film is a treasure trove of '30s archive footage and I can't think of another film of the period (1983) with which to compare it. Maybe that's the problem for some people.

Zelig is the movie equivalent of one of Woody Allen's loony short stories. The moral is, even if all you want is to blend in, you can't give up being yourself.
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